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Iced Gems

I sometimes feel that if I lived in a sunny country I’d bake once in a blue moon. It seems most of my recipes are born out of ways to entertain the kids on a long rainy day and we seem to get alot of these in South Wales. Today however has been the longest rainy day ever. I think partly because we are still in lockdown and partly because we were supposed to be on a family holiday in Butlins this week. So instead of chilling with a cold gin whilst the kids watch a pantomime, I’m eating my feelings – in iced gem form.

Iced gems are another one of those treats that you love to eat but would never think to make yourself. Whereas I haven’t gone to the effort of making cute little bags with polar bears on, I have cracked out the piping bag so I would count these as easy to medium on the effort scale!

You will need a baking tray lined with baking paper, piping bag and open star nozzle (we use Wilton 1M)

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 120g butter at room temperature
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar or few drops lemon juice (optional)
  • Food colours of your choice gel or paste

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6

In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the butter and flour until it resembles chunky breadcrumbs. (The kids preffered method is to pinch the butter into the flour, which is great for developing fine motor skills. My preferred method is to throw everything in a stand mixer in a futile attempt to contain the mess).

Mix in the sugar and the yolk of the egg to form a firm dough.

Scatter plenty of flour over the already trashed countertops and roll out the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin.

Using the large end of the piping nozzle, cut small rounds of dough and place on the baking sheet.

When all the dough has been used and the tray full of little circles, pop the whole tray in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes (this stops the dough from spreading too much in the oven).

Remove from the fridge and bake for about 8 minutes until the biscuits are starting to lightly brown at the edges.

You’ll have to keep a close eye on them as they are so small they can burn easily. Remove and set aside to cool.

While the biscuits cool make the royal icing.

Whisk the white of the egg with the lemon juice or cream of tartar if using, until thick, white and able to hold it’s own shape.

Gradually add the icing sugar until fully incorporated. It may resemble toothpaste but this is totally fine.

Pop the nozzle into the piping bag (ideally you’ve given it a little wash in the meantime) and snip the end of your using a disposable bag.

Using a wooden skewer or thin clean paintbrush, paint lines of food colouring up the bag.

Spoon in the icing mixture and tie the end of the bag using an elastic band or food bag clip.

Ensure the biscuits are cool before piping the icing splodges.

To pipe, squeeze the bag directly over the biscuit, then release while lifting the bag off. Theres a video on my Instagram of my 5 year old doing this which may be helpful.

Once all the biscuits are iced, leave to air dry for about 4 hours if you like your icing solid. If not then tuck right in!

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Basic Biscuits

I still like to think of myself as young and cool…’down with the kids’ so to speak. At least that’s what I tell myself as I sing to Little Mix whilst squeezing through the rollers at soft play…

In reality I’m a mum of two in her 30s who likes to be in bed before 9.30pm and feels rebellious staying up to watch Have I got News For You.

Any delusions of being ‘with it’ were quickly shattered when I was talking about Basic Biscuits and was informed that ‘basic’ is apparently a derogatory term now! Who knew? Maybe everyone apart from me.

I’m using ‘basic’ in the traditional sense here though. So these biscuits are simple to make but really tasty, (I really recommend using real butter) and basic in the very best sense of the word.

You will need 2 baking sheets, well greased or lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour

  • 150g caster sugar

  • 200g butter

  • 1 egg

  • Tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180° C or Gas mark 4

Giant bowl at the ready! Mix the butter and sugar together until combined, then stir in the egg and vanilla.

Pour in the flour and mix until you have a fairly stiff dough.

Roll out to apx 2cm thickness and cut into your preferred shapes using cookie cutters or a child safe knife.

If it’s a bit sticky, add more flour and also use plenty of flour on the worktop and rolling pin.

My two love rolling dough and immediately eating the raw shapes at any moment, so if you manage to get any biscuits onto the trays give yourself a pat on the back…

Pop onto your lined trays and bake for about 10 minutes or golden.

Allow to cool completely before decorating (optional).