Things at work have quietened down a bit for the summer, and I must admit to spending a little of my day (every now and then!) browsing other blogs and cake-related offerings out there on the big worldwide web.
I’ve heard people talk about it before (am I right in thinking they do fairs at schools?), but this was the first time I’ve ever looked at their offerings. What a lot they have – and so cheap! Of course my favourite is the Baking and Desserts section. A few of the titles already grace my bookshelf (aka kitchen windowsill), but if there’d been an “add all to basket” button, I’d have been very tempted!
The one I chose to stick with was Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits (this is their own website and WELL worth a look. Gift baskets of iced biscuits, amazing decorated cakes by post, icing kits? Yes please!)
For one – Rob’s favourite food is biscuits. Second, I love playing with icing, different colours and decorations, and third, biscuits are easy to make but also easy to vary and have a different style/flavour/decoration every time – not like some cake books where each recipe calls for a pinch of rose petals, eye of a newt etc…
Last word of love for The Book People – lower postage for buying just one item? What a brilliant idea! At £3.99 + £1.95 delivery I was already happy with my purchase, and it hadn’t even arrived yet…
The only downside is that they use Yodel for their deliveries – I detest them so much that I won’t even link to them, other, far better delivery companies, are available 🙂 I ordered the book on a Friday and it arrived Wednesday the week after, 10 working days is not too bad, but going back to the online tracking found that aforementioned delivery company had had it since the Monday, just been inept at finding our office. Where they’ve been to be before. Sigh.
Anyway, back to the book! It arrived safely, and I was excited to open the parcel and find a lovely shiny hardback with lots of bright pictures, glossy pages, simple-but-yummy recipes and easy-to-understand instructions.
Their dough making page had some particularly good tips – instead of faffing around with flower, roll the dough between some greaseproof paper, refrigerate, and cut! Slightly less fun than getting your fingers involved, but bonus points for a whole lot less cleaning up 🙂
And how cute is this page! These ones will definitely be featuring on a blog near you soon…
As well as inspiration the book actually gives you the tools to make the biscuits – 6 clear pages of photocopiable templates so you don’t have to buy lots of different biscuit cutters:
Not content with just reading about biscuits, of course I had to make some! I’d fallen in love with polka dot one on the cover, and thought these would be quite simple to recreate on a summers evening.
There is also a page of tips on icing, all very helpful but make things sound a lot easier than they really are! A really good one that I used was to use royal icing on the biscuits, then pop them back in the oven on a low heat (50-75 degrees c) for about half an hour, to really set the icing. No more sticking together in the biscuit tin!
So, using the vanilla biscuit recipe (simple, check; tasty, check), I made half a batch and used a simple fluted circle cutter. Mixing up some pretty pastels (it is finally summer after all) I set about creating the polka dots.
The technique sounds simple: outline the biscuit in your base colour. Leave to dry for about 5 minutes, before flooding with runnier icing in the same base colour. Then, pipe small dots on in a contrasting, also runny, colour. Simples.
Except… well, there’s no explanation about how difficult it is to evenly size and space the polka dots. Of course I understand that practice makes perfect, but mine didn’t look much like the book at all!
I tried small dots:
…and big ones:
I’d conclude that the big ones were probably slightly more successful, and a good tip of my own, is to start in the edge, not the middle, tempting as it may seem! From the edge it’s easy to do more dots down in a line, then another line next to this, etc.
Overall I was medium-well on the happy scale. They tasted good, the icing was well set and they looked relatively pretty, but I was slightly grumpy that they weren’t as perfect as I’d set out for them to be!
Nevertheless, when I first opened this book, I thought my review was going to be “very nice, but not for beginners”; they even suggest that children can ice some of the biscuits, which I found hard to believe.
However, with some great photos, good guidance and mostly detailed instructions, my review is instead “great inspiration, beautifully presented”, and I’d certainly recommend anyone wanting to do more with novelty biscuits go out (or click some of the links above!) and buy it.
You might have noticed, the grass rather needs cutting. That was my next job, after biscuits, honest. Except… Pepper wanted to play 🙂 I can’t deny the kitty her first sniff of proper summer weather, now can I…?