Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas Spice Biscuits

5 penguin biscuits with red scarves


Merry Christmas! Sorry it’s a little late – I’ve been having a lovely relaxing time back at home over Christmas. Time to catch up on writing up a few of the things that I made before Christmas.


At work, we have a Christmas Breakfast: everyone takes in a food contribution and we have a bit of a party, including handing out the Secret Santa gifts. I decided to buy the Really Good biscuit tin (as in my list of great gifts for bakers) as my Secret Santa gift and so felt that it really needed to be filled with biscuits! Biscuits are great as they can be prepared a few days in advance, so very useful at this time of year when evenings and weekends tend to be busy.


I wanted to make use of some of my Christmas cookie cutters, so decided on the Biscuiteers’ Treacle Spice biscuits – as the Biscuiteers’ biscuits are brilliant for using with cutters. I hadn’t baked these ones before but they sounded suitably festive! They are easy to make, although slightly hard to judge when they are cooked as they are a fairly dark colour.  They held their shape beautifully, even the delicate thin bits of the shapes. However, for me, they were a little too treacly and slightly bitter. Therefore, when I made a second batch to take home, I substituted half of the treacle for golden syrup and also added the zest of half an orange, which really improved them for me. Don’t worry if the dough seems very marbled when it comes together– this doesn’t matter and it is important not to over-work the dough as this will make the biscuits tough.


Here’s the adapted recipe (makes about 24 biscuits, I usually double the recipe):


Christmas Spice Biscuits


8 Christmas bauble cookies
Ingredients

  1. 200g plain flour
  2. ½ tsp baking powder
  3. ½ tsp ground ginger
  4. ½ tsp cinnamon
  5. ½ tsp mixed spice
  6. Zest of ½ an orange
  7. 50g dark brown sugar
  8. 100g salted butter, diced (at room temp)
  9. 25g black treacle
  10. 25g golden syrup

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and all the spices into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir well.
  2. Rub in the butter, using just the tips of your fingers, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the centre of your mix and add the golden syrup, treacle and orange zest.
  4. Use a knife to stir the mixture until it begins to come together as a dough.
  5. Use your hands to bring the dough together.
  6. Divide the dough into two and shape into two flat disks.
  7. Place the first piece of dough between two sheets of baking parchments. (This means that you do not have to add extra flour when rolling.)
  8. Roll the dough out evenly until it is approximately 5-6mm thick all over (you can buy rolling guides, but I have this rolling pin, which is brilliant!). If the top or bottom sheets of parchment crinkle at any time, peel it off and smooth out.
  9. When rolled to the correct thickness, move the dough (still sandwiched between parchment) onto a baking tray and then into the fridge to chill for at least 20-30 minutes.
  10. After chilling, use your selected cutters to cut out the biscuits, cutting each one as close to the last as possible, in order to use the dough efficiently. Re-roll the dough as necessary, but try to work the dough as little as possible.  
  11. Place each biscuit onto a lined baking tray, allowing space between as the biscuits will spread a little.
  12. Bake the biscuits for 14 – 18 minutes. When cooked, the biscuits will be firm around the edges but still slightly soft on top.
  13. Remove the baking trays from the oven and carefully remove each biscuit from the tray, placing them gently onto a wire cooling rack. The biscuits will still be very delicate at this stage.  
  14. Allow biscuits to cool totally before storing or icing.


To decorate:

Snowflakes


I used the two smallest cutters from this set.

7 Christmas scnowflake iced biscuits

Ingredients

  1. 20ml orange juice or water
  2. 150g royal icing sugar
  3. Ice blue food colour
  4. Edible silver balls

Method

  1. Add the orange juice to the royal icing sugar.
  2. Use an electric mixer to beat the mix (starting on low and increasing to high speed) for about 5 minutes. You are looking for the mix to be a toothpaste-like consistency.
  3. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a very small round tip.
  4. Ice the biscuits with a variety of swirling patterns, decorating with silver balls as required.

Baubles


I used the cutters from this set.



Christmas Bauble biscuits

Ingredients

  1. Ready-to-roll fondant icing
  2. Water
  3. Paste food colours
  4. Edible gold leaf
  5. Lustre dusts
  6. Clear alcohol (eg vodka/gin)

Method 

You can use either pre-coloured ready-to roll fondant or colour the fondant yourself – or I guess you could make your own fondant – but this seems like a lot of effort!

  1. Roll the coloured fondant out to approximately 2mm thick.
  2. If desired, roll the icing carefully over an embossing plate.
  3. Using the same cutters as used for the biscuits, cut out the fondant.
  4. Use a clean brush to brush each biscuit with water before carefully placing the fondant shapes onto the biscuits.
  5. Mix a sprinkling of lustre dust with a drop of the alcohol to create a paint.
  6. Use a fine paint brush to decorate the biscuits.
  7. Use another brush to gently lift fragments of the gold leaf and carefully place to form the top of the bauble.


Polar animals


I bought this set of polar animal cutters from TK Maxx just before Christmas – worth a look in there, they had lots of sets for bargain prices!

5 polar bear biscuits with blue scarves

Ingredients

  1. Ready-to-roll fondant icing
  2. Water
  3. Paste food colours

Method

You can use either pre-coloured ready-to roll fondant or colour the fondant yourself – or I guess you could make your own fondant – but this seems like a lot of effort!

  1. Roll the coloured fondant out to approximately 2mm thick.
  2. Using the same cutters as used for the biscuits, cut out the fondant.
  3. Use a clean brush to brush each biscuit with water before carefully placing the fondant shapes onto the biscuits.
  4. Use different colours of fondant to add details like the penguins’ feet and beaks, and scarves for the penguins and bears.    


 5 Blue whale biscuits






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