For all of my endless experimenting with new recipes, I alway come back to the same biscuit recipe; This dough holds the ideal balance between minimising spreading, and retaining a light and crumbly texture. If you want to change the flavouring, you can simply use a different liquid flavouring in place of the vanilla – almond and lemon work particularly well.
My favourite way to mix up the flavours is with the royal icing. And you definitely need some flavouring in it, because otherwise it will taste rather bland and chalky. I’ve included a recipe for making royal icing using icing sugar and meringue powder, but I typically buy a boxed ‘royal icing’ that contains these two ingredients already combined. If it’s available where you live, I think this is a much easier solution, and I don’t consider it cheating!
My favourite way to decorate these biscuits is to simply cover them in white icing, and paint on details using a mixture of food colouring and vodka. This minimises the amount of mess from mixing icing, and gives you great flexibility in the decorating. It’s also really fast.
I hope this versatile recipe will help you expand your iced biscuit horizons!
- 200g butter
- 200g castor sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 325g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- ROYAL ICING:
- 500g icing sugar
- 55g merignue powder
- 1 tsp titanium dioxide, optional
- Liquid flavouring, to taste
- Gel food colouring
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and egg, and mix again to combine.
Sift the flour and baking powder together, and then add to the other ingredients. Mix again until just combined.
Wrap in cling film and and rest in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200c / 180c fan
Dust the work surface with plain flour. Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut our shapes as desired and transfer to a baking sheet with a palate knife.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.
Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sift the icing sugar, meringue powder, and titanium dioxide into a bowl. Add your flavouring of choice, and then water, a little at a time.
You want to aim for a '20 second icing', meaning that if you disturb the surface of the icing, it takes about 20 seconds to smooth over completely. This is the ideal consistency for piping lines and borders.
Use a No.2 icing tip, or cut a small hole in the end of a disposable piping bag, and pipe around the edges of the biscuit, forming a complete border. Leave to dry for 15 minutes, or until the surface has crusted over.
Empty the icing back into a bowl, and use an electric whisk to beat it. The icing will stiffen. Add more water as you go. You want the final consistency to be '10 second icing', a little bit more flowing than the icing you used to pipe the borders.
Using a No.3 tip, or cutting a slightly larger hole in a disposable piping bag, generously flood the inside of each biscuit with the icing. Leave to set up completely before decorating - at least 8 hours.
Put a small blob of gel food colouring on a plate, and mix with a little vodka. Use this to paint designs on your biscuits.
You will find that the biscuits really 'pop' when they have a black outline of royal icing. You will find it easier to achieve a true black colour if you add some sifted cocoa powder to your royal icing - you will need less black food colouring (which often doesn't taste nice) to achieve a good colour.