Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016 – week 2- Biscuit week
This week in the Great British Bake Off tent, the contestants’ three tasks included a signature bake of 24 identical decorated biscuits, Viennese whirls for the technical challange and a gingerbread structure for the showstopper. For the Bloggers Bake Off I have made iced sweetheart biscuits for my take on the first challange, 24 identical biscuits.
Over the years I have made a lot of biscuits. I like making biscuits, I have even written several books on biscuits (or cookies as publishers often want to call them, I think publishers think it is a more user friendly term) including Classic Biscuits & Family Favourites (Making & Baking Series) and Cookies Galore. Several of my books are still available on amazon.
So I was quite looking forward to this week. The show stopper didn’t appeal to me, they often don’t as it is more about showing off and thats not really what I am about. I’ve made Viennese whirls many times, they are a favourite biscuit of mine, so not much of a challenge. Instead I opted for the 24 decorated biscuits. Having spent a week working in the garden in Suffolk it was lovely to spend the morning indoors baking and decorating these biscuits today. I have opted for a fairly simple design which requires only a minimal amount of piping skills (or equipment) so anyone can give it a try. It may be quite simple but I think it is really effective.
I’ve used heart shape cutters but the design would work just as well with round cutters.
For some truly stunning piped biscuits take a look at Sweet Ambs website. I can only dream of being able to make and decorate biscuits like Ambers.
Step by step – making the iced sweetheart biscuits
- 175g plain flour
- 100g butter, cut into cubes
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- about 2 tsp water
- 350g royal icing sugar
- about 3 tbsp water
- red food colouring
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.Stir in the caster sugar.
- Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg yolk. Add the vanilla extract and a teaspoon of water. Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough, adding a little more water if required. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to about 5mm thick. Using a cookie cutter cut out as many hearts as you can and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. You will need two baking sheets for all the biscuits.
- Gather the trimming together and re-roll and continue to cut our more hearts until all the dough has been used. Chill for a further 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190℃ /170℃ fan/gas mark 5. Bake for 10–12 minutes until pale golden swapping the baking sheets around for the last few minutes.
- Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and beat in enough water to make a smooth thick icing.
- Divide between two bowls and colour one bowl of icing dark pink and the other a pale pink.
- Thin the icing to flooding consistency (see blog).
- Spoon into two piping bags fitted with a plain nozzle.
- Pipe the outline of one heart with dark pink then flood the centre to fill.
- Pipe small dots around the edge of the hearts , then use a skewer to drag through the dots.
- Repeat until you have iced half the biscuits then reverse the colours for the second half.
- Allow to dry before serving.
Step by step decorating the iced sweetheart biscuits
Mix the icing- The icing for these biscuits should be to a consistency known as flooding. This means it should be thin enough that it smooths out itself in about 10-12 seconds. To test, take a spoonful of icing and drop it back into the bowl and in 10-12 seconds the icing should be smooth again. Make the basic icing thicker then divide equally between two bowls. Colour the icing , then thin out with water to the correct consistency.
Find more detailed tips and hints of how to flood ice on here.
Once you have made the icings, spoon into two disposable bags fitted with a plain nozzle or snip a very small piece off the end of the bag. The nozzles are not essential but they do help to get a neater finish.
Pipe the out line of the biscuits as near to the edge as possible (I am a bit too far in, in this picture). Some people suggest doing this with a slightly thicker icing but that just adds an extra step and it is hard to completely hide the outline on the finished biscuit. As long as the icing is not so runny it runs off the side of the biscuit you will be fine and will get a better finish.
Next immediately start to fill in the outline with the icing.
Use the tip of the nozzle or a skewer to gently nudge the icing together if required. Gently tapping the biscuit on the table will also help the icing to smooth out.
Using the contrasting colour, pipe small dots around the edge of the heart.
Starting in the top middle gently drag a skewer or toothpick through the icing dots to the bottom. Then repeat on the other side. Decorate half the biscuits flooded with the dark colour and half with the lighter co,our. Allow to dry before serving.
So with my signature bake complete, did I fulfill the brief? 24 identical decorated biscuits, which should be uniform in size and thickness. Have a good snap and taste good.
Yes and No !
I have to confess they are not my favourite biscuits – iced biscuits are a bit too sweet for my taste but they do look pretty and would make a great gift to someone with a sweet tooth.
I only made 23 biscuits, so a fail there. The exact number you get will of course depend on the size and shape of the cookie cutter you use. I used a heart shape cutter about 6x6cm. They were a fairly uniform thickness though.
Identically decorated – well no, a fail there too as I decided to make half one colour and half the other. They also didn’t all have the same amount of dots. But lets face it thats just nit picking!
Don’t forget to pop over to Mummys mishaps to check out what the other bloggers have been baking for the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016.