Monday, 14 December 2015

DIY Christmas // Winter Shortbread Snowflake Biscuits

This is my second Lakeland post [if you missed the first, it's a Gingerbread House make] and I've bought out my favourite easy shortbread biscuits recipe, but made them look amazing with a set of four snowflake cutters.  

Combine your three ingredients in a bowl and mix until breadcrumbs are formed and then fully combined.  Leave to cool a little in a bowl and pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C.

Roll out your dough and 

Intricate cutters can present a number of problems.  You can double these if you are using a buttery dough: pastry tearing, the dough becoming difficult to work with as it gets warmer, shapes losing their, well, shape and let's not even get started on moving the cut dough to the baking tray:
[you can see the problem, mainly, of the bottom biscuit which tore and couldn't be saved.  The others have slight breakages too and all had to be re-shaped].
Buttery dough can spread, and for the first time I hoped it would do this to help mend the broken sections, but, as you can see, it didn't really.  The bake is also a little uneven - the top biscuit much more baked than the others, and the intricate patterns lost ever-so-slightly.

There are a few tips I can share that makes the whole thing easier and much less stressful:
My first tip would be to roll and cut your dough directly on to your parchment/grease-proof paper.  A lightly floured paper is even better.  This will make the horrendous task of trying to scrape the cut dough from your board to the baking tray with a knife, losing the shape in the process, something you don't have to give a second thought.
You can easily lift your paper directly to the tray. Winner.
Remove the excess dough, roll out the leftovers around it, or tear small sections of baking paper that you can layer on a baking tray like a jigsaw.

There are a couple of benefits to this.  For cutters with holes or patterns, you can cool the dough and then easily pick out these cuts with tooth pick/skewer without having to damage the dough around it or lose the will to live halfway through.
The cooled dough will also spread less whilst baking - so none of the intricate cuts will be lost or become splodges of biscuit on your tray.
[dont worry if a few pieces of dough don't come cleanly away - thin sections will crumble away easily once baked and neaten the whole thing up].

and finally - only if you remember/have the time/have the motivation - place the more intricate biscuits in the centre of the tray - they'll catch the least heat, which the biscuits on the outside will get and should therefore bake to an even colour.
[For biscuits that use cutters without patterns or holes, I recommend re-cutting the biscuits when they come out of the oven (if cooled, the biscuits will snap and break) to sharpen and neaten the shape].

Leave to cool on a rack and then it's time for the finishing touches.
These snowflakes are so pretty, all they needed was a little dusting of icing sugar:

But if you have time, they also look beautiful with piped icing [my tips here]:
...or wintery themed sprinkles
[before taking out of the oven, try sprinkling with granulated sugar for a pretty, sparkly sugar effect].

They make great presents, can be hung as tree decorations or edible tags:
...or if you think they will last, pop in an airtight container and they'll keep for a few days.

see you next time x

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