Never desert your icing!
Step 1: Bake the biscuits
This recipe makes about 25 medium-size or 12 large biscuits.
Baking temperature: 180°, gas 4
Baking time: 6-10 minutes, depending on size
200g unsalted soft butter
200g caster sugar
1egg, lightly beaten
400g plain flour, plus more for dusting
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod (for vanilla flavour)
Electric mixer with paddle attachment
5mm guide sticks
Large rolling pin
Cookie cutters in various shapes
Small palette knife
Wire cooling rack
1. In the electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and chosen flavouring until well mixed and just becoming creamy in texture. Don’t overwork, or the cookies will spread during baking.
2. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Gather it into a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill it for at least an hour.
3. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it briefly. Using two 5mm guide sticks, roll it out to an even thickness.
4. Use cookie cutters to cut out the desired shapes and, using a palette knife, lay these on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill again for about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 180°C, gas 4.
5. Bake for 6-10 minutes, depending on the size, until golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Wrapped in foil or cling film, they will keep well in a cool dry place for up to a month.
Step 2: Make the icing
25g merriwhite (dried egg white powder)
1kg icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Electric mixer with paddle attachment
Sealable plastic container
1. Mix the merriwhite with 150ml water and pass through a sieve to get rid of any lumps.
2. Place the icing sugar in a the clean bowl of an electric mixer, add about three-quarters of the merriwhite mixture and the lemon juice to the bowl with the icing sugar and start mixing both together on low speed.
3. Once the sugar and the egg whites are well combined, check the consistency. If the sides of the bowl still look dry and crumbly, add some more merriwhite until the icing looks almost smooth but not wet.
4. Keep mixing the icing for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it has reached stiff-peak consistency.
5. Spoon the icing into a sealable plastic container, cover it with a clean damp j-cloth and cover with the lid. Store at room temperature.
Step 3: Decorate
Parchment paper (to make icing bags for finer details and handwriting)
1.Using a parchment-paper icing bag with a 1mm point, pipe a border along the outside edge of the biscuit. Hold the bag about an inch above the biscuit at a 45-degree angle and complete the border in one continuous motion. Then “flood” the cookie (fill it in) with bottled icing, starting from the outside and working your way inwards. Use the nozzle to blend, smooth and fully cover the surface.
2.While the icing’s still wet, use an icing bottle in a complementary colour to create designs such as polka dots that will be embedded in the smooth surface (e.g. light pink dots on a fuchsia background). Turn dots into hearts by dragging a cocktail stick through the centre of the circle.
3.Once the icing has hardened (overnight at room temperature or three hours in an oven heated to 80°C then switched off), use a fine-tipped icing bag to add swirls, handwriting or other textured designs to the surface of the biscuit.
4. Artfully present your design in a cellophane bag tied with a pretty piece of ribbon and a gift tag.
Top tip: If your biscuits go soggy, it’s the humidity in the air. Pop them into an oven warmed up to 80°C (and then turned off) and they’ll crisp back up – even with the icing on.
For more delicious (and gorgeous) ideas from Peggy, visit www.peggyporschen.com, and check out the September/October 2010 issue of You & Your Wedding for her complete step-by-step instructions on decorating biscuits, on stands now.