“Oh, reindeer biscuits!” my daughter said when she saw these cooling on the rack. “Are they for Christmas?” “They’re moose biscuits,” I told her, “and they’re for the Great British Bake-off biscuit week.”
Why moose biscuits? Because I’m a proud, moose-loving Canadian, of course. (And also because it’s the only non-Christmas-shaped biscuit cutter I own…)
When making cut-out biscuits, it’s important to choose the right sort of dough. It’s dispiriting to go to the effort to cut out little bells and Christmas trees, say, and end up with indistinguishable, amorphous blobs.
Of the three go-to biscuit doughs I use to make cut-out biscuits, this peparkakor one is my favourite. It hardly spreads at all during baking, and the resulting biscuits are fragrantly spiced, and satisfyingly crisp.
The recipe comes a Swedish friend who makes mountains of these tasty little biscuits each Christmas. She doesn’t ice hers, though she does sometimes punch a hole in each one and thread them on lengths of ribbon, which looks very pretty.
(makes 2-3 dozen, depending on size)
- 150g molasses or dark treacle
- 110g butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 375g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
To make the icing:
- 125g icing sugar
- a few drops of vanilla
- just enough water to make a pipeable icing (about 2 Tb)
- In a small pan over a medium flame, bring the molasses, butter and caster sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat, and leave to cool until lukewarm.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the cooled molasses mixture and egg.
- Beat until the dough comes together in a ball, adding a bit of flour if it’s too sticky to work with.
- Wrap in cling film and chill until firm (at least a couple of hours).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Cut pieces of baking parchment of a length to fit your baking trays.
- Cut off pieces of chilled dough and roll out to about 1mm thick on the piece baking parchment. (You may find it easier to cover the dough with a piece of clingfilm before rolling.)
- Cut out biscuit shapes, removing the surrounding scraps. Transfer the piece of paper and remaining biscuits to a baking tray.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until a nut brown in colour. Take care not to overcook – being thin, these biscuits burn easily. Cool on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, whisk together the icing sugar and vanilla with just enough water to give it a toothpaste-like consistency.
- Fill a piping bag or small squeeze bottle and the biscuits. Leave the icing to set for several hours before storing.