We had a bit of a baking frenzy in our house the weekend just gone. Which is actually fairly normal, but we possibly made even more stuff than usual on this occasion (not discussed here – a Madeira cake with fancy icing and some rolled fruit cookies), then fed a load of our ware to Ceri, Becca and Angharad for afternoon tea.
Fran made a big batch of vanilla cookie dough using this recipe:
225g unsalted butter and 225g caster sugar creamed together until light (by hand or with an electric beater).
Add 1 beaten egg and 1/2 t vanilla extract, and beat until smooth.
Incorporate a pinch of salt and 450g of sifted (or is it sieved?) plain flour, then bring together into a ball, or disc, and refrigerate for an hour or two.
It’s from Decorating Cakes and Cookies by Annie Rigg, a book that’s chock-full of cute and novel goodies. And some baddies too, as – and I’ve said it before – food colouring pastes can be really vile things, with some dubious chemical food colourings in them.
Still, we haven’t embraced the vile sugar pastes just yet. Instead, we tried to do most of our baking this weekend using ingredients that had natural colourings. This was a slight challenge for making the rather nifty Stained-glass biscuits.
We visited one of those cutesy “old-fashioned sweet-shops” that have become popular of late, but the shopgirl looked at us slightly blankly when we asked for simple boiled sweets. Really, if you’re going to work in an “old-fashioned sweet-shop”, at least learn some of the basic terminology. Hi ho. We did get a few types of sweets from there, but in the end, the best source for simple boiled sweets made with natural colourings was Sainsbury’s (called “Clear Fruits”).
So anyway – to make the stained glass biscuits, simple cut out shapes, then using smaller cutters, make holes. Place the biscuits on baking sheets lined with parchment, and fill the holes with boiled sweet that has been crushed (I found a pestle and mortar worked best). Bake at 180C (160C fan) for about 12 mins. Remove from the oven, then allow to cool – the crushed sweets will have melted, but will still be liquid, so leave 10 mins or so to allow them to set, then gently lift from the sheets.
We used the smaller cut-outs to make iced-gem type biscuits (again, the colours here a result of using food colourings with natural ingredients – like spirulina for the green, heh). Very cute.