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It has been brought to my attention that I don’t bake enough. You only need to look at the ‘Baking’ section of my recipe archive to notice that a years worth of projects can fit on one page, and this lack of confidence with sugar, eggs and flour spills over into everyday life. My mother is the baker, not me. Where I’m confident in the kitchen when it comes to cooking (at the time of writing last night I was following a badly written recipe for a steak and ale pie, and successfully managed to go off script to produce a decent dinner without breaking a sweat) my bakes never seem to come out as well as other peoples. Sure, I spend a lot of time shouting at the screen during The Great British Bake Off as I’m well versed in the technical, academic side of baking, but over the past few years I’ve gone from someone who loves to bake to someone who rarely does it at all.
However, over the past month or so I’ve tried to get back into the saddle a bit. Making the Autumn Hazelnut Praline Loaf Cake I loved so much last autumn for the blog boosted my confidence a bit, so the other week I decided to make again the really easy rosewater biscuits I’d shared on Instagram earlier in the year and loads of you asked for the recipe for. Really all you’re doing is taking the basic biscuit recipe from my Homemade Halloween Party Rings (which I in turn have adapted from How Baking Works, though to be perfectly honest it is a biscuit recipe I’ve seen cropping up everywhere – you can’t really improve on baking as it is a science, not an art like cooking) and decorating them with a rosewater spiked hard icing and a sprinkling of dried rose petals.
A bit of a shout out for my recent baking boost needs to go to Le Creuset. I know full well a big part of why I don’t bake as often is that I simply don’t have enough tins and stuff (or space for them) in my tiny kitchen. I made my first loaf cake here yesterday (a ginger cake inspired by Bake Off!) because my mother was kind enough to donate a tin.
Anyway, so I could get my bake on they kindly sent me one of their fantastic baking tins. Full confession: I have already owned one for about a year, but I swear they’re the most versatile thing in my kitchen, especially as I have so little space so I jumped at the chance to get a second. You see, I had biscuit tins, but these did not have lips around the edges so they were no good for roasting things (like my One Pan Merguez with Red Peppers & Crispy Chickpeas), and all my other roasting tins, before this one came along were no good for the delicate art of cookie and biscuit making. It is also possible to accidentally burn food onto them and scrub it off again without ruining the tin. I’ve been there. (A bit of a hazard of your everyday kitchen also being a test kitchen!)
I hope you’ve all notice the new ‘You Might Need’ widget in all of my new (and coming soon to old) recipe posts. I get so many questions about my favourite and most trusted kitchen equipment, so now if you click on the items you’ll be able to get your own, like a super awesome Le Creuset baking tin. Wherever possible I’ve tried to include the exact items I use and love in my own kitchen in London, or that I always use in my mothers Kent kitchen. So yes, I really do love Mary Berry Palette Knives, Lakeland Baking Parchment (though Sainsbury’s actually does a great budget option) and Salter Kitchen Scales that much.
These simple vanilla biscuits are topped with a rosewater icing and dried rose petals to make the perfect pretty biscuit, perfect for afternoon tea.
50g (2 oz) Golden Caster (Granulated) Sugar
100g (3.5 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
150g (5 oz) Plain (All Purpose) Flour
25g (1 oz) Cornflour
8 tbsp Royal Icing Sugar
3 tsp Cold Water
1/2 tsp Rosewater
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (355 Fahrenheit).
Cream together the sugar, butter, salt, vanilla and egg yolk until smooth. Add the flour and cornflour, and gently stir in until combined into a dough. Bring together into a ball using your hands.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out the dough until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin.
Using a medium cookie cutter (the middle one if you have a standard set of three) cut out the biscuits, laying them on two baking sheets covered in baking parchment. Bring the dough scraps together carefully (try not to work the dough too much, as this creates tough biscuits) and roll out and cut out more biscuits until you can’t get any more out of the dough.
Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes until they are firm but have barely started to turn golden. Allow to cool on the baking sheets completely before decorating.
Mix the royal icing sugar with the water and the rosewater, adding the water in very small amounts until it is just smooth enough to smooth over the biscuits. I do this one by one, adding a sprinkling of dried rose petals as I go with a palette knife, drizzling some icing in the middle of the biscuit then pushing it to the edges. The back of a spoon also works if you don’t have a palette knife / you’re as bad as I am at washing up.
Leave the icing to harden at least overnight before storing in an air tight tin for up to 5 days (if they last that long!)
If you can’t find royal icing sugar regular icing sugar is fine, you’ll just not get a hard set on top of the biscuits so be carefully putting them in the tin.
I'm a food writer living in London and the English Countryside. Welcome to my online diary where I share easy, weeknight recipes, foodie travel diaries and some of the best places I've eaten out recently.
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