Want to decorate biscuits like Peggy Porschen? Well, with her latest book, ‘Cookies’ (£6.99, Quadrille), you most certainly can! Packed with ideas for every occasion and techniques for all abilities, it’s a great way to get creative. We especially can’t wait to recreate these gorgeous gingerbread snowflakes, which you can do too by following the instructions below!
GINGERBREAD SNOWFLAKES – makes 6 of each size
COOKIE DOUGH INGREDIENTS
- 5 tbsp water
- 210g light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp treacle
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- 3 tbsp ground ginger
- 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 250g salted butter, cold and diced
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 560g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
ROYAL ICING INGREDIENTS
- 500g icing sugar, sifted
- Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- egg whites or 12.5g Meri-White powdered egg white (mixed with water, as per the instructions on the packet)
- 1 batch gingerbread cookies in various snowflake sizes and shapes: small (4cm diameter), medium (8cm diameter) and large (12cm diameter)
- 500g royal icing (see above)
- Small amount of Superwhite Icing Whitener (optional)
- Silver sugar balls
First prepare the gingerbread cookie dough by lining 4 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Place the water, brown sugar, treacle, golden syrup, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat, stirring continuously.
Remove from the heat and gradually add the diced butter. Stir until combined. Add the bicarbonate of soda – take care as the mixture will swell up. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sift in the flour and slowly mix together to form a slightly wet and sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 2 hours, or until cool and firm.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out, until about 5–6mm thick (unless stated otherwise).
Use cookie cutters to cut out the desired shapes and place the cookies onto prepared baking trays. Chill again for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.
Bake the cookies for 8–10 minutes, or until they spring back to the touch and the edges are slightly darkened. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Prepare your paper piping bags and then make your royal icing. Place the icing sugar, lemon juice (if using) and three-quarters of the egg white or Meri-White in the clean and grease-free bowl of an electric mixer.
Mix on the lowest speed until well combined. You may want to cover the mixing bowl with a cloth to prevent the icing sugar from going everywhere. If the mixture looks too dry, add more egg white or Meri-White. The icing should look smooth, but not wet.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl after about 2 minutes to make sure the icing is well combined. If it still looks too dry and grainy along the edges, add a little more liquid. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little icing sugar to adjust the consistency.
Continue mixing on the lowest speed for 4–5 minutes, taking care to not overwork or over-aerate the mixture. The royal icing is ready when stiff peaks appear around the sides of the bowl and has a smooth and satin-like texture. Transfer the royal icing to a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. The icing can be stored for up to 1 week at room temperature if covered with lid or cling film; or in the refrigerator if using fresh egg whites.
You will need both soft-peak and flooding consistencies of white royal icing. You could also add a pinch of Superwhite Icing Whitener to the royal icing to ensure that it stays white when piped on top of the dark-coloured cookies.
To make soft-peak icing start by dipping the palette knife in water and mix it until the icing looks a little glossy. It should form peaks that fall over.
For flooding icing transfer the icing to a small bowl. Mix with a spatula and add a little water until the icing looks shiny, flows and flattens within 4–6 seconds. Tap the bowl onto a hard surface to bring any air bubbles to the top and prick them with a cocktail stick, before filling the icing into a piping bag.
Once prepared, keep the piping bags in a re-sealable plastic bag to prevent the icing from drying out between use.
Take a piping bag filled with white soft-peak icing, cut a small section from the tip of the piping bag and pipe decorative details on all of the cookies. For larger sections of decoration, first outline with the white soft-peak icing and then fill with the white flooding icing.
To attach silver sugar balls to the cookies, pipe a dot of soft-peak icing onto the cookie and then place the sugar ball on top, gently pushing it into the royal icing. If necessary, use tweezers to drop the sugar balls in place.