Baking Through The Book, Love Lies & Lemon Pies

Baking Through The Book: Summer Cookies

Okay, okay, so they’re actually Christmas cookies in the book. But with some carefully chosen cookie cutters and a little brightly coloured icing, you can make these delicious biscuits any time of year. At least, that’s what my daughter keeps telling me…

Confession time: I am not great at icing. I always say that I can bake things that taste fantastic, but their appearance isn’t always exactly picture perfect. Still, I figure people are more interested in taste than looks when it comes to cookies, right?

Confession number two: Somehow, this was by far the messiest bake in the book so far! I blame the icing sugar – it does have a tendency to puff up everywhere. But the air in my kitchen tastes lovely and sweet now…

In the book, the Bake Club gang have to help the Year 7s to bake these cookies for the Christmas fair. So, in the spirit of the book, I enlisted the help of my five year old daughter to make them. She got to choose the shapes and colours, and did all the cutting out, too. (She also ate most of the icing straight from the bowl.)

Here’s a little snippet from the book to get you in the baking mood:

It didn’t take long to get everyone set up with bowls. We got the Year Sevens to take turns with the scales, adding each ingredient in turn. Then, of course, came the mixing. The butter we were using was soft and squidgy and I’d cut the cubes as small as I could, but it still took some arm strength to get everything combined into a nice, smooth dough.

Fortunately, we had Mac on our side. Every time one of the girls started to slow down, or dropped the spoon into the bowl to shake out her arm, Mac was on hand to help out. The boys, in an attempt to compete, insisted on doing it themselves, but by the time we reached the third group, the girls had given up even trying, preferring to watch Mac mix the dough instead. I didn’t blame them. It was amazing how good a guy could look with a mixing bowl and wooden spoon in hand.

Okay then. Ready to bake?

Ingredients:

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  • 340g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g soft, cubed butter
  • 375g plain flour
  • a little cold water

Method:

Mix together 140g of the icing sugar with the vanilla, egg yolk and butter.

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Sieve in the flour and mix to make a firm dough. I always start doing this with a spoon, and end up using my hands. It’s messier but quicker!

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Split the dough in half and wrap each half in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 190°C / fan 170°C / gas mark 5

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it’s about 1cm thick

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Cut out your shapes and place on lined and greased baking sheets. At this point, if you’re making the cookies as decorations to hang, use a skewer to make a 1cm hold at the top of each cookie, for threading ribbon through later.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes until they’re light gold. Remove to cool on a wire rack. If your holes have started to close up, this is the time to poke them open with that skewer again.

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For the icing, mix the rest of the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water, and stir to make a thick but still runny icing. Add more water, a few drops at a time, as needed. If it gets too watery, just add more icing sugar! Colour with a little edible food colouring, again a few drops at a time.

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Spread the icing over the cooled cookies, decorate with sprinkles etc as you like, and if you’re hanging them, thread with ribbon when set.

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Eat and enjoy!

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