This week the nostalgic mood continues with another family inspired recipe. When it comes to food there is no question that baking is my first love, and when I think back to my earliest baking memories I am always reminded of childhood Christmases. The much anticipated, long December school holidays that felt like they went on forever were the perfect time for sun drenched afternoons in the pool and fun with friends, but a real highlight for me would be the Christmas baking. Each year I looked forward to making mince pies, biscuits and the decorating of the Christmas cake which my mum would have baked a few weeks earlier using my grandmother’s recipe. (And still does!)
Another favourite end of year tradition was our Christmas biscuit tree, and it was always a hit with holiday visitors. My mum would hang colourfully decorated biscuits from a branch that she had cut down and painted, and when friends came to visit the children were allowed to choose one each. This tradition fell away as we got older, but last year it was revived for my children who, naturally, were all too keen on the idea.
This is a lovely and fun treat for the little ones at Christmas and you can use this recipe to make your own biscuits at home. Get them involved and make the biscuits together, it is a fabulous holiday project to keep them occupied.
If organising a branch seems like too much hassle you could also hang the biscuits on your Christmas tree, or simply pop them on a plate for tea time. And if you are baking for a crowd the simply double the recipe for an extra large batch of biscuits. They also make a great gift!
CHRISTMAS BISCUIT TREE
Makes about 25 biscuits, depending on size of cookie cutters
3/4 cup treacle sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups flour + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
assorted Christmas cookie cutters
For the icing:
1 egg white
For the icing:
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp water
assorted decorations such as silver balls, glitter, fondant icing, gold dust, etc.
tree branch for hanging
Step 1.) Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with baking paper.
Step 2.) Cream the butter and treacle sugar until fluffy and combined. Mix in the egg.
Step 3.) Sift in the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt and baking powder. Mix until the ingredients come together and form a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Step 4.) Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out your shapes and arrange them on the baking tray. Use a skewer to make a hole at the top of each biscuit.
Step 5.) Pop the tray in the oven and bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
Step 6.) To make the icing: whisk the egg white for a few seconds until foamy. Sift in 1 cup of icing sugar and beat in. Sift in the remaining icing sugar. Add the water and mix well. If the icing is too thick add more water a few drops at a time. The icing should have a soft, piping consistency but not be too runny.
Step 7.) Pipe or drizzle the icing over the biscuits. Decorate and leave to dry. Once the icing has set tie the thread through the holes and hang the biscuits on the tree.