Limonnik: A refreshing pie for the hot Moscow summer

This blend of sour and sweet is a zesty dessert with lemon filling.

This blend of sour and sweet is a zesty dessert with lemon filling.

Daria Sokolova
Russia’s aromatic, slightly sour pie will please both sweet tooths and lovers of delicate desserts that aren’t too sugary. The protagonist here is a crushed lemon, with its peel and sugar.

Russia’s lemon pie is a dessert that will satisfy the tastes of all who enjoy unusual pastries. Limonnik's main peculiarity is its delicate sourness. Many people do not like overly sweet pastries, and prefer a light citrus flavor. Furthermore, the pie is refreshing in the summer heat.

Why is limonnik a Russian dessert?

Lemon pastries are popular throughout the world, and each region has its own recipes and local secrets.

Lemons appeared in Russian in the 15th century when merchants brought them from the East. During the rule of Peter the Great, Russians began growing lemon trees, followed by tangerine and orange trees. Lemons were used for medical purposes - to cure arthritis, fevers and cough. By the way, Russia started the custom of dropping a slice of lemon into one's tea.

In the 19th century, lemons and lemon peels began to be used in recipes and were mentioned in cookbooks.

Limonnik is a shortcrust pastry, prepared without eggs, which is why it suits vegetarians. The dough practically has no sugar and it goes well with the sour-sweet lemon filling.

How to make it:

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

Ingredients for the dough:

  • Butter - 200 g
  • Wholegrain or wheat flour - 3 cups (1 cup=200ml)
  • Water - 3/4 cup (125-150ml)
  • Dry yeast - 1 tablespoon
  • Ordinary or brown sugar - 1 teaspoon
  • A pinch of salt
  • Starch - 1 teaspoon
  • This quantity of dough will fill a 26cm diameter bake pan, or a 27-37cm sheet pan

1. Dissolve the sugar in room temperature water and add the yeast. Mix and let the yeast leaven for 15 minutes until it froths. Meanwhile, start preparing the dough. 

Place the soft butter and the pinch of salt into sifted flour. Rub the butter and flour until crumbs are formed. Make a crater with the crumbs and pour the leavened yeast inside. 

Carefully knead the dough but not for long - shortcrust dough needs quick kneading. Make a ball out of it, and then place the dough into a bowl, cover with a towel and let sit for 40 minutes. During this time, it should double in size. 

 Source: Daria Sokolova Source: Daria Sokolova

Ingredients for the filling:

  • Lemon(s) - 1-2
  • Sugar - 1 cup (200-250ml, to taste)
2. Make the sweet filing. Boil the lemon for one minute and then pour cold water over it. This will remove the peel’s bitterness. Slice the fruit, remove the pits and mix the slices in a mincer or blender. 

Before placing the filling onto the dough, add sugar to the lemon and mix. This will prevent the lemon from cooling, and the filling will be more compact.

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

3. Meanwhile, the dough should be ready. Place it onto a table covered with flour and separate it into two parts. The lower cake will be slightly bigger than the cover. 

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

First, roll out the bigger part and place it into a baking pan (don't forget to put a baking sheet in it). You can make the edges with your hands and cut out the redundant dough. Then sprinkle the starch over the cake so that it doesn’t allow the dough to absorb the filling. 

With a spoon, place the lemon filling onto the cake, distributing it evenly over the baking pan. 

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

Roll out the second part of the dough and cover the pie. Tuck in the edges. With a fork, puncture the top part of the pie so the steam can rise through them. 

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

4. Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes in an oven at 180C. Since the dough has little sugar, the pie will not be very ruddy. When the pie cools, cut into squares, which can be sprinkled with sugar icing. The filling becomes soft, with a slightly sour taste, like lemon jelly. 

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

The remaining dough parts can be used to make sweet buns. Just roll the dough into a salami, add sugar with water or lemon and cut into pieces. Bake for about 25 minutes. 

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

This dessert tastes great with a cup of coffee. Bon appetite! 

Source: Daria SokolovaSource: Daria Sokolova

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