One of my very good friends is expecting a baby and so I offered to organise a baby shower for her. We decided to hold it at a café called Tart in Bristol, which offers a fantastic range of home-made cakes and tarts (and a lovely glass of sparkling rose wine!). As such, I couldn’t make any cakes etc to take along, but decided that I could get away with taking some iced biscuits along as favours.
My friend hasn’t found out whether she is expecting a boy or a girl so the theming for the party had to be gender-neutral. I decided to go for a bright and cheerful theme based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar book – which I loved as a child! I bought some spotty bunting and tablecloth, some Hungry Caterpillar napkins and made some bunting from pictures in the book printed onto photo paper. Inspired by ideas on Flickr, I decided to make these biscuits and package them up in little bags for the party guests.These would also make great biscuits for a child's birthday party.
These biscuits follow the same Biscuiteers’ recipe and method as I used for my Easter spiced biscuits earlier in the year, simply leaving out the orange zest and spices, and adding extra lemon zest. This recipe makes great biscuits and so I always come back to it when I need to make cookie-cutter biscuits.
Be warned though - these look fab but did take a loooong time to decorate!
Lemon cookie-cutter biscuits
Ingredients (makes approx. 24 biscuits)
- 350g plain flour
- 100g self-raising flour
- Zest of 2 lemons (save juice for the icing)
- 125g granulated sugar
- 125g salted butter, diced (at room temp)
- 125g golden syrup
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar and stir well.
- Rub in the butter, using just the tips of your fingers, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Make a well in the centre of your mix and add the golden syrup, egg and zest.
- Use a knife to stir the mixture until it begins to come together as a dough.
- Use your hands to bring the dough together.
- Divide the dough into two and shape into two flat disks.
- Place the first piece of dough between two sheets of baking parchments. (This means that you do not have to add extra flour when rolling.)
- Roll the dough out evenly until it is approximately 5-6mm thick all over (you can buy rolling guides, but I have this rolling pin, which is brilliant!). If the top or bottom sheets of parchment crinkle at any time, peel it off and smooth out.
- When rolled to the correct thickness, move the dough (still sandwiched between parchment) onto a baking tray and then into the fridge to chill for at least 20-30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 170C.
- After chilling, use a square cutter to cut out the biscuits, cutting each one as close to the last as possible, in order to use the dough efficiently. Re-roll the dough as necessary, but try to work the dough as little as possible.
- Place each biscuit onto a lined baking tray, allowing space between as the biscuits will spread a little.
- Bake the biscuits for 14 – 18 minutes. When cooked, the biscuits will be very lightly golden, firm around the edges but still slightly soft on top.
- Remove the baking trays from the oven and carefully remove each biscuit from the tray, placing them gently onto a wire cooling rack. The biscuits will still be very delicate at this stage.
- Allow biscuits to cool totally before storing or icing.
These biscuits were covered with rolled fondant and then decorated with royal icing, which dries to a very hard surface – making it easy to wrap these biscuits as presents or transport them. The easiest way to work with royal icing is to start with a ready-made royal icing mix.
- 250g fondant icing
- 1 tblsp lemon juice for brushing
- 500g royal icing sugar
- 75ml lemon juice
- Paste food colours - red, green, yellow, blue
- Food colour pens
- Roll out the fondant icing to approximately 2mm thick.
- Cut out using a square cutter (slightly smaller than the one used to cut out the biscuits).
- Brush each biscuit with a little lemon juice before topping with a square of icing.
- Add the 75ml juice to the royal icing sugar in a large bowl.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the mix (starting on low and increasing to high speed) for about 5 minutes. You are looking for the mix to be bright white and a toothpaste-like consistency (this is “line icing”).
- Divide the line icing between 3 smaller bowls.
- Use a skewer to add small amounts of the red, green and yellow paste colours to the bowls of icing, adding a little at a time until you reach the desired colour.
- Spoon some of the icing into a piping bag with a very small round tip.
- Pipe the outlines of the caterpillar body with the green icing, the head with the red icing and the sun with the yellow icing. Set aside some of the red and green line icing to add details to the iced biscuits.
- Add water to the icing left in the bowls until you reach a pouring consistency (this is called “flooding icing”).
- Spoon into a piping bag or piping bottle.
- Pipe the red flooding icing onto the biscuits to fill the head areas outlined on the biscuits.
- Pipe some of the green flooding icing into sections of the body.
- Add a little blue or more green paste colour to the remaining green icing to vary the colour and pipe into further sections of the caterpillar body. Repeat for further sections of the caterpillar body.
- Pipe the yellow flooding icing into the piped sun, adding a little orange or red paste colour to add depth.
- Allow iced biscuits to set.
- Add details like hairs, feet and antennae using the food colour pens.
- Use remaining red and green line icing to pipe tint caterpillars around the edge of the white fondant.
- Leave to dry for at least 24 hours.