Book Review: Brilliant Biscuits by Pamela Giles

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December 30, 2012 by thepolishedbutton

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Father Christmas gave me a rather lovely book called Brilliant Biscuits by Pamela Giles. It is filled with stunning designs for icing biscuits and basic recipes for the biscuits themselves. I was asked to make something sweet for my god daughter’s* 1st birthday party so it seemed like the perfect excuse to give the book a whirl. (*when I say god daughter, she isn’t exactly, as her parents didn’t have a Christening, so my title is Special Friend but that’s a bit more of a mouthful!).
I have made biscuits plenty of times, but not with fancy icing, so I decided to keep it simple and start with one of the easier ideas of a polka dot heart. There are some really incredible biscuit works of art in here, but I only had nap time to get them finished, and I suspect the complicated ones could take all day!

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I followed the recipe for the basic butter biscuit, substituting the butter for baking marg and adding a teaspoon of vanilla essence. I halved the quantities as the recipe stated 30-40 and I really didn’t need that many. As it turns out, I ended up with over 40 any way, as the cutter was quite small. I also have a tendency to roll quite thin, so my second batch I made a bit thicker, which was much better. The pastry was fairly short, but easy to use, although the recipe said to mix with a mixer rather than knead, which ended in a floury mess.

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Once I got my hands in it came together nicely a rolled out easily.

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10 minutes in the oven and they looked, smelled and tasted great (sadly one broke and I had to check it…)

Whilst in the oven, I made up some pink royal icing, following the recipe but excluding the meringue powder, as I didn’t have any, or in fact ever heard of it! I already had some plain white in the freezer from a previous biscuit sesh, so I left that to defrost while rolling out more dough. For the icing, I needed two consistencies – thicker line icing, and runnier flood icing. (I made up one batch in flood consistency so the colour would match, then took about a quarter out and thickened it up with icing sugar). The instructions were all pretty simple and easy to follow, written in a no nonsense, uncomplicated style. Timing is important here – I got in a bit of a dough/biscuit/icing drama as I was still putting biscuits in the oven as I was making up icing and I ran out of room! I suspect more haste less speed is the phrase here…
Incidentally, I used a quarter of the icing quantities in the recipe, and had more than enough for my biscuits.

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Once they were cool, I got out my trusty Tala icing pen to do the outlines in line icing. The book recommends using a piping bag, but the Tala is easier to use in my opinion, and despite a shaky start, the icing created a reasonably satisfying outline.

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I then used a piping bag with the flood icing in, filled the biscuits and used a small spoon to help flood it to the edges. (see what I did there?)

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Now to the polka dots. Ah the polka dots. In the book they seem fairly simple – white icing in a piping bag, dotted on whilst the pink is still wet, leave to dry, voila. Why didn’t I just do that? Because I always know better of course, and decided I may end up with big splodges if I used a piping bag, so used a toothpick instead. This meant that the dots were a little small, took forever and came out a little faint. Instructions are there for a reason folks…

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However, all in all they don’t look too bad, and apart from taking forever to finally finish, and having every implement we own covered in pink icing, I now have a little more confidence with this type of decoration. Oh and the birthday girl didn’t even notice them…tsssk these babies are so ungrateful…(there were some enthusiastic adults though, and they really did taste good…)

This book is really easy to follow, the recipes taste great, and even if you’re not up to the task of the more complicated designs, the ideas are really inspiring. I forsee many more biscuits to come!

*All opinions are my own and I have not been paid for this review*

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