Monday, 19 December 2011

iced spice biscuits

I've been making these biscuits since I was a child (I think they'd be "cookies" in US terms). I usually make them at Christmas time. They are really easy to make, keep their shapes well, store well and are delicious too! This year I enlisted my toddler to help cut out the shapes. The ingredients list is so easy to remember:
  • 250g (8oz) plain flour
  • 125g (4 oz) butter
  • 125g (4 oz) brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • teaspoon each of: ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg (you could also add ginger)
  • pinch of salt
  • For the icing: 125g icing sugar, 1-2 tablespoons hot water
oven setting: 190C (175C fan) / 375F / gas mark 5
grease a couple of baking trays before getting started; cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. I tried doing this with an electric beater this year but frankly thought it didn't help much! Beat in the egg a little at a time.
Sift in the flour, salt and spices. Actually I never bother sifting my flour, I must say.
Mix everything together into a ball of firm dough. It feels as though there is not enough liquid and it will never combine - just keep going, it will! Sprinkle flour onto a table and a rolling pin, then roll the dough to about 1/2cm (1/4inch) thickness. Cut out the shapes and gather up any leftover dough to re-roll and cut out. This dough withstands repeated rolling out very well - making it perfect for cooking with children!
 Put the biscuits on the trays and bake them on a high oven shelf. I prefer to bake them in several batches as I find it gives me more control. Although my original recipe states 15min cooking time, I find that with my electric fan oven it takes 10min at most, so just keep checking the first batch to work out what's right for your oven. they are ready when golden brown all round the edges.
Put the biscuits on a wire rack to cool. Mix the icing sugar and hot water together, being really carefully not to add too much hot water. Then spoon the icing onto the biscuits and spread it out with the back of your spoon. Gloop! If I had little silver decorative balls, I'd probably add some at this point. Sometimes I like to leave some un-iced as they are also yummy plain.
Leave to cool and set, then put into airtight boxes and leave over night to let the icing harden. Then they are ready to give away... or just eat! I don't know how long they keep for as they tend to go quickly... but I know they're fine for at least 4 days in an airtight tin. Probably a week would be fine! 

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