Monday, 19 March 2012

Cut Out Biscuits


Did you see what I did there? Left you with a teaser of what was to come, but totally gave the ending away  by showing you the end result? I'm just like Masterchef. And while I mention it, let me say how glad I am that Shelina won - Shelina with her upbeat attitude, gorgeous hair and skin, mango obsession, and ability to actually get the task completed without crying (ANDREW) or running out of time (TOM). Ahem. We get quite involved in Masterchef in the Dine at Mine household.

 
But yes, last time I hinted that the next post would involve cut-out biscuits, and I gave a sneaky peek at them in action on top of the cake. Between the delicate ombre blues of my slightly-too-runny icing (that's what you get for making it up as you go along), and the oh-so-unflattering depiction of the birthday boy in biscuit form, I think these worked out pretty well as cake-toppers. But although I only needed a teeny amount to decorate the cake, it would have made no sense to halve a recipe which contains only one egg. Even after spelling out the full birthday message and making a few spares as cook's treat, I still had over half of the biscuit dough left over. And with a whole chocolate salted caramel cake to get through, I knew the two of us couldn't manage any extra biscuits any time soon.
 

So I froze it, and pulled it out this weekend as part of a Grand Mother's Day Tea (you'll be hearing more about this too). This time round, I wanted to try something a bit more exciting so I opened my big drawer of baking paraphernalia, pulled out a whole range of cutters - and had far more fun than any grown-up should really admit. 

 
Exhibit a) leaf shaped biscuits sandwiched together with nutella. In my humble opinion, the winner of the three biscuit options - chunky, quick to make (no need to faff with icing) and delicious. Exhibit b) butterfly window biscuits sandwiched with jam, dusted with vanilla icing sugar. Slightly more tricky (cutting the mini butterfly out of the bigger one was almost impossible - I ruined twice as many as I managed), and the jam was slightly too sweet with a sweet biscuit. Exhibit c) assorted stars and mini leaves (when I was running out of patience to reroll and reroll), sprayed gold with oh-so-amazing edible spray paint. These actually looked surprisingly good - like a glittery egg wash - and would be amazing at Christmas. But, you know, not the star of the show. Oooh, what a pun.

 
As for the biscuits themselves? I thought they were fine but underwhelming on the cake but they actually came out a lot better second time around, when I rolled the dough quite a bit thicker. I should also point out that the dough emerged from the freezer totally unscathed,  which is a big plus. I don't think they were the best biscuits I've ever made - for one thing, those custard creams were incredible - but a good basic biscuit for when you want to play with cutters and spray paint and arrange them prettily on a tea table. Ahem. Exhibit d) below.

 

Cut Out Biscuits
From Nigella's Feast

- 90g soft unsalted butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 200g plain flour
- half a teaspoon of baking powder
- half a teaspoon of fine salt

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Chuck in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Form it into a ball and wrap in clingfilm, then leave in the fridge for at least an hour (or freezer for..well, I don't know. Indefinitely? Mine was in there a week and it was perfect).

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a few baking trays with parchment. Then roll the dough out on a well-floured surface until about half a centimetre thick. Go crazy with cutters and bake for 8-12 minutes (but keep an eye on them if your cutters were teeny, they might need less). You're aiming for golden in colour. 

Cool on a wire rack. Once they're cool, you can ice them (icing sugar, a few drops of water to make into a paste, colouring if you like), sandwich with anything you can think of (nutella? jam? lemon curd? buttercream?), or just spray gold. With edible spray paint, obv.




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