Posted 16th Oct 2014
To celebrate Pyrex National Baking Week (from 13th to 19th October) we spoke with founder of brilliant biscuit brand Biscuiteers, Harriet Hastings, to find out the secret behind the icing
How and when was Biscuiteers born?
We launched in 2007. We came up with the idea of a new foodie gifting concept on a trip to the States and realised that there was unique gap in the market.
Have you always enjoyed baking yourself?
It was my interest in design that was really the inspiration for Biscuiteers. My husband is the one with all the baking skills – he has run his own London based catering and events company, Lettice, for the last 20 years.
Where did the Biscuiteers classic biscuit recipe come from?
We tested lots of different recipes in my husband's catering kitchens to find one that was just right – our core flavours are vanilla and chocolate and we wanted to achieve the best possible flavour with the best quality ingredients.
Has the recipe changed much over the years?
No not much. We introduce a new all spice flavour at christmas and are always refining it but essentially our flavours have remained the same as they are so popular with our customers.
How did you learn how to ice such incredibly detailed designs?
Our designs have developed over the years as have our Biscuiteers techniques. Most of our icers have artistic training which really helps and enables us to try lots of new ideas.
Who comes up with all the new biscuit ideas?
We design new collections seasonally and plan them around the big gifting occasions. Design is a collaborative process and we get ideas from all over the place – vintage fabrics, art, fashion and films.
Describe a typical day in the Biscuiteers kitchen...if there is one?
We have two bakeries – one for baking and one for icing. On a typical day like today we have teams of icers working on bespoke orders for brands including Ralph Lauren, Estee Lauder and Louis Vuitton as well as teams working on our christmas stock and daily orders. We also supply wholesale accounts including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. Currently we are also building two huge biscuit installations for Leeds Castle for their Christmas displays and preparing the decorations for 12, 10ft christmas trees.
Visit www.biscuiteers.com for more information, to book an amazing icing class or to buy your own collection of delicious Biscuiteers biscuits, cakes or chocolates.
Click here to win a tin of Biscuiteers biscuits & cookery book
Now it's your turn to have a go and make a Biscuiteers biscuit of your own:
Makes 24 orange biscuits
350g plain flour
100g self-raising flour
125g granulated sugar
Grated zest of 2 oranges
125g salted butter, diced
125g golden syrup
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 before you begin making your biscuits.
Sift the flours together into a mixing bowl; add the sugar and orange zest. Mix well.
2. Add the butter. Using just the tips of your fingers, rub together the ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. When all the butter is evenly mixed in, make a well in the centre and add the syrup and the egg.
4. Mix well, drawing in any of the flour left at the sides of the bowl and stop as soon as a ball has formed.
5. Place the dough onto your clean worktop. Divide into two and squash the dough into two even-sized flat discs. Cover and chill until ready to use, or roll out immediately.
6. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment and begin by gently squashing the dough down with a rolling pin or your hands. Cover with a second sheet of parchment and then use the rolling pin to roll out properly. The top sheet of paper may crinkle from time to time, just peel it off and smooth it down gently before starting to roll again.
7. Gently roll the dough until it is 5mm thick all over, then transfer the whole sheet of rolled dough still sandwiched between its sheets of parchment to a baking tray and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.
8. Biscuit cutters are widely available online, or you can choose to make your own. To do this, identify the shape you want to
trace and lay a sheet of parchment on top, carefully tracing around the shape. Remember that you can ice on much more detail than needs to be reflected in the shape of the biscuit. Carefully cut the templates out with scissors.
9. To use the dough efficiently cut the biscuits out as close together as possible. Lift each biscuit onto the parchment-covered baking tray and make sure they are not too close together as the dough will spread a little on baking. Any trimmings can be re-rolled a couple of times. Evenly space the trays in the oven and cook for 14-18 minutes, depending on your oven.
10. When the biscuits are evenly cooked and just beginning to turn a golden colour remove the trays from the oven and transfer the whole sheet of parchment to a cooling rack. Do this carefully as they will be quite fragile and hot. Cool totally before starting to ice.
Now the icing can begin...
4 egg whites
900g icing sugar
1. Place the egg whites into a mixing bowl and add the icing sugar. Whisk or beat for about 5 minutes if using an electric beater or whisk, or for longer if using a wooden spoon. Whisk slowly to start with to avoid clouds of icing sugar covering you and your kitchen.
2. Continue whisking until the ingredients form a thick, smooth paste that is bright white in colour and has the consistency of toothpaste. To add colour, just stir in some colour paste until you get the colour you desire.
3. To make the flood icing, just add a bit of water, a little at a time until it is the consistency of runny honey.
4. If you are not using the icing immediately, cover the surface with cling film to stop it drying out and refrigerate.
5. To start, cut your piping bag straight across to achieve a clean icing line. Always use a clean piping bag, so that your icing colours stay lovely and clean.
We use two basic types of royal icing at Biscuiteers – a thick, smooth paste for piping details and edging, and a runnier glossy mixture for flooding larger areas.
Pink Passion Flower
1. Ice two circles in raspberry icing in the centre of the flower like a bullseye.
2. Flood the centre with raspberry icing and the outer ring with parma violet.
3. Ice petal shapes around the outside with raspberry icing then fill the petals with pink flood icing
4. Leave to dry. Use a white line to make a stamen pattern, then go around it with raspberry icing.
Retro Orange Flower
1. Using the piping icing (it should be smooth and thick, a bit like the texture of toothpaste), ice a white circle of dots in the middle of the biscuit.
2. Ice a stylised petal pattern around the outside of the flower.
3. Fill the middle with yellow flood icing and then the petals with runny, orange icing.
4. Leave to dry, and then pipe on a green centre, orange dots and a green line pattern.
1. Ice around the outside in violet line icing.
2. Fill with violet flooding icing then allow to dry.
3. Use yellow line icing to ice a ring of touching dots and fill inside with raspberry flooding icing.
4. Allow to dry then decorate raspberry icing with a circle of white line icing.