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Prue Leith’s Iced Ginger Biscuits

These ginger biscuits provide the perfect opportunity for honing your icing skills. Use the templates included at the end of the recipe to guide you.

Makes: 12

Hands-on time: 2 hours

Baking time: 12 minutes

Skill level: Needs skill

For the ginger biscuits:

150g unsalted butter

100g light muscovado sugar

2 tsp molasses

3 tbsp beaten egg

225g plain flour

¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground cloves

For the royal icing:

3 large egg whites

750g icing sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

blue, yellow, green and red food-colouring pastes

You will need:

2 sheets of baking paper

8cm square cutter

10cm (length) oval cutter

2 lightly greased baking sheets

4 small piping bags, each fitted with a number 1 writing nozzle

1 medium piping bag fitted with a number 1 writing nozzle

1 medium piping bag fitted with a number 3 writing nozzle

Step 1 – Beat the butter, sugar and molasses in a bowl until fluffy. Little by little, add the egg, beating well between each addition. (You can do this in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, if you like.)

Step 2 – Sift together all the remaining ingredients into a bowl. Stir them into the butter mixture.

Step 3 – Place the dough on 1 sheet of baking paper. Place the other sheet on top and press the dough to make a flat layer. Chill for 1 hour, until firm.

Step 4 – Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5.

Step 5 – On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 5mm thick. Use the cutters to make 6 square and 6 oval biscuits, re-rolling the trimmings as necessary. Place the biscuits on the baking sheets. Chill until firm.

Step 6 – Bake in the middle of the oven for 8–12 minutes, or until the edges of the biscuits are lightly browned.  Cool for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 7 – For the royal icing, mix the egg white with 3 tablespoons of the icing sugar in a large bowl and add the lemon juice.

Step 8 – Gradually, add the remaining icing sugar and mix thoroughly until the icing holds its shape. Do not overbeat or bubbles will form.

Step 9 – Divide the icing into 3 separate bowls. Leave 2 bowls white and divide the third bowl of icing between 4 small bowls for decorating the biscuits. Colour 1 portion blue, 1 yellow, 1 green and 1 red.

Step 10 – Drop by drop add water to the small portions of icing and mix to a piping consistency. Spoon these into the 4 small piping bags fitted with number 1 writing nozzles.

Step 11 – Drop by drop add water to one of the bowls of white icing and mix to a piping consistency. Spoon into the medium piping bag fitted with a number 1 writing nozzle.

Step 12 – Add water drop by drop to the remaining bowl of white icing and mix to a flooding consistency. Spoon into the medium piping bag fitted with a number 3 writing nozzle.

Step 13 – Decorate the biscuits according to the templates below, loosening or thickening the icings with water or icing sugar to the correct consistency.