Orange and Cardamom Runout Biscuits
These orange and cardamom biscuits are similar to classic gingerbread and are perfect for icing onto as they retain their shape and don’t spread too much when baked. The combination of cardamom and orange in these works really well. The cardamom gives a subtle warm heat and compliments the freshness of the orange zest, and it all means the biscuits can handle the intense sweetness of the icing.
I thought I’d have another go with decorating biscuits using runout icing. The iced speculaas biscuits I made at Easter worked well but I felt like working on something a little more ambitious this time around. These biscuits can be decorated in whatever way you like but, as always, I think a sense of humour and having a bit of fun is very important here. I decided to make the biscuits for my boss and thought I’d replicate his logo for the bakery, which I started working at a few weeks ago. It’s amazing that the things I love more than anything else, cooking and baking, have become my job and I just wanted to thank my boss for taking a risk and employing me, despite the fact I didn’t have professional experience.
It was pretty daunting baking for a baker, especially for a baker who bakes the best bread I have ever tasted, but I thought I could try and at least win him over with the decoration. If you interested in trying some amazing real bread, then the bakery is called Lucky 13 Bakehouse and they supply to delis all over Birmingham, UK. If you would like to find out more about real bread, made the traditional way, without any added chemical or artificial bread improvers and drool over the stuff we bake, then check out the website.
75g or 3 oz unsalted butter
75g or 3 oz soft brown sugar
two tablespoon of honey
zest of an orange
two teaspoon of orange juice
225g or 8 oz plain flour
teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
half teaspoon of ground cardamom or the black seeds from three or four cardamom pods ground with a mortar and pestle
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan oven)/ 170°C/ 325 Fahrenheit/ gas mark 3 and lightly grease two large baking trays
Place the butter, sugar, honey, orange zest (which has been finely grated, carefully avoiding the bitter white pith of the orange) and orange juice into a saucepan. Place over a gentle heat and slowly melt everything together until the sugar dissolves.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cardamom and salt into a large bowl to thoroughly mix them and then add the melted mixture. Mix well to form a firm dough. This method of adding the melted butter and honey to the dry ingredients is the traditional method for making gingerbread and this means that the cooked biscuits will have the crisp outer crust and soft interior of proper gingerbread.
Place the dough into cling film and flatten to form a thin disk. Chill this disk in the fridge for around forty minutes. This firms up the mixture ready for rolling and the chilling means that the cut biscuits will keep their shape when they are baked.
Once chilled, roll the dough out on a floured surface, giving it regular quarter turns to prevent it from sticking, until half a centimeter thick. Now the creative bits start. How you cut the biscuits will obviously affect how you can decorate them so I like to give myself a lot of choice and use quite a few different cutters, dipped into a little flour to prevent them from sticking. When you have cut out all you can from this rolling, bring together the scraps, lightly knead and re-roll the trimmings again to use up all the dough. If the shape of the biscuits is really important, for example if you are cutting the biscuits into animals, then you can chill the cut dough at this point to prevent the biscuits spreading when they bake.
Bake for twelve to sixteen minutes or until golden brown. The biscuits will be lightly coloured, and firm but not crisp. Leave the biscuits to cool on the tray for two minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to allow them to cool fully. You need the biscuits to be completely cold before icing them.
For piping and runout icing, you’ll need royal icing, which I explained about in the post about brush embroidery. For these runout biscuits, I wanted to create a partly visible outline so I piped the parts I wanted to stand out in black, and piped in white to create an invisible outline for the union jack flag on the logo. I separated the royal icing into four small pots for the four colours I needed for my biscuits, and then coloured these up.
After piping the outlines and allowing the piping to dry, I watered down the coloured runout icing, ready to flood the biscuits. Runout icing is essentially a more watered down version of royal icing. Whereas you want royal icing to hold soft peaks, runout icing should settle and any ribbons in it should disappear after ten seconds. This is known as ten second runout icing.
For each of the colours, I flooded all of the sections which needed to be that colour and then left the biscuits to dry under a lamp, before moving onto the next colour. To flood the section, pipe the run out icing into the middle of the section, going out towards the edges, and then spread out to the corners using the nozzle tip or a cocktail stick. If any bubbles form in the surface of the icing, smooth them out using a cocktail stick. Drying the biscuits under a lamp will mean that the runout dries with a sheen on it, and will that it dries evenly. Once all the flooding was done, I finished off the biscuits by piping the name of the bakery.
If you want to make spotty runout icing, then pipe your outline and flood the section in the same colour as above to create a seamless flat finish with an invisible outline. Allow this base colour to dry for a few minutes and then pipe the polka dots on top in a different colour. You don’t need to make these perfect as the dots will spread and form perfect flat circles in the icing. I think these polka dots are really simple but look absolutely lovely.
As usual, just try to have fun with your decorating and remember, the more simple things are, generally, the more lovely and elegant they turn out