Practise makes perfect!

“OK so perhaps I can’t go riding this morning but that doesn’t mean I have permission to sulk around the house achieving nothing” …

I woke this morning feeling like I’d had a run in with Mike Tyson during the night, that happens sometimes, my back was throbbing and my neck felt like it had snapped sending shooting pains throughout my head … Good Morning indeed! I’d intended to get up and go for an early morning ride on Ashley, he’s become rather chubby on the Summer grass so we’re trying to get fit together at the moment, however my body clearly had other thoughts today so that was no longer an option. I decided that was no excuse to mope around and feel sorry for myself so I went down to sip on my morning coffee while I browsed the net for how to entertain myself today … It didn’t take long to stumble across the videos of the wonderful ‘SweetAmbs’ and her beautiful iced cookies, that was today’s entertainment sorted then!

I browsed the net for a while to find some inspiration and a good cookie recipe that would hold its shape once baked, I finally decided to go with Lindy Smith’s vanilla cookies (her chocolate fudge cake recipe is beyond amazing so I figured her cookies must be good too!) and set about gathering my ingredients.

As I had never iced cookies before I decided to double the recipe, that way it doesn’t matter how many times you go wrong you have plenty to practise on to try and get it right! For those of you who would to try and make your own here is the original recipe/method:

  • Preheat oven to 170c/325f/GM3
  • Put 275g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder and 100g caster sugar in a bowl
  • Add 75g diced butter and rub between fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs
  • Make a hollow and add 1 beaten egg, 30ml golden syrup and 1/2tsp vanilla essence
  • Combine until a dough is formed (I added a little extra golden syrup as mine wasn’t forming a dough)
  • Cover and chill for 30mins
  • Roll the dough out to approx 5mm thick and cut out your shapes, place them on a baking sheet
  • Bake for 12-15 mins until firm and lightly coloured

It was a fairly foolproof recipe and they came out great, well almost great! My last batch needed another minute so I shut the door and made the disastrous mistake of not resetting the timer … More like five minutes later I remembered the poor cookies. As it happens they survived, they were just quite brown and crispy!

Once they were cooled the fun could begin, I cheated today and used a box of Royal Icing sugar (you just add water et voila!) to save some time and energy. I made a few different colours and added lemon juice to the yellow to give it a yummy citrus kick. You want your icing to have quite a runny consistency, draw a pattern with it in your mixing bowl and if it diassapears in around 10-15 seconds you knows it’s good to go. I loaded up my piping bags, for super neat piping you’re best of using round piping tips, I didn’t have any small round tips to hand so I just snipped the end of the bag off and it worked just fine. Then it was time to start decorating my cookies. If you haven’t made them before then I definitely suggest you do, it was so therapeutic and soon the pain radiating through my body had managed to find an insignificant place at the back of my mind.

There are lots of video tutorials out there but the basics are:

  • Pipe a line around the border
  • Roughly fill the middle and using a scriber tool (a wet toothpick works fine) gently drag the icing around until it’s all neatly covered
  • Decide on your pattern and pipe lines and/or dots onto the cookie, wait for them to have merged before using your scriber tool to drag them into the shapes you desire.
  • Let them set for 8-12 hours

NB to make the roses start with dots and use your scriber in an almost broken circle motion to drag and push the icings together and create the rose shape, then add to tiny green dots at the edges and drag those downwards to create your leaves.

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So here they are and I LOVE them! OK they may not be the neatest, they certainly aren’t perfect but they’re my first iced cookies and they put a smile on my face today after what was a less than perfect start. Everything you see started as either a piped dot or line and you then use a scriber tool (or in my case today a wet toothpick) to these out to make different shapes and patterns. These are definitely something I will continue to practise and keep making in the hope they will be perfect one day. Until then they can be my edible alternative to mindfulness colouring books!

The next time your day isn’t going the way you planned just stop, breathe, think of the things that you are grateful for (there’s always something; this morning I woke in a comfy bed, with a roof over my head and I knew downstairs there was a kettle I could fill with clean water and boil in 1 minute to make a fresh coffee – I’d say that’s a lot to be happy about) and make a new plan that you CAN achieve. Fingers crossed I can take Ashley out tomorrow, until then … Xx

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