Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lavender Chrysanthemum Cookies

These cookies could be either Dahlias or Chrysanthemums, the mould I purchased said it was a chrysanthemum mould, so I have called them Chrysanthemum cookies, but feel free to make them as dahlia cookies if that is what you prefer! The two flowers in fact originate on different continents,  even thought they look so similar.

The lavender in the title doesn't just refer to the colour of these flowers, these sweet little cookies are flavoured with lavender as well. 

This recipe is an adaptation of a basic sugar cookie recipe. These are such sweet little cookies, that I have given a recipe for a half quantity of cookie dough. I have used a lavender flavouring by Beau products, you could replace the sugar with lavender sugar if you prefer a more natural flavouring.

You can make lavender sugar by wrapping two tablespoons of dried lavender flowers in a muslim pouch and leaving them if a tightly sealed jar containing 1 cup of caster sugar. Leave the flavours to permeate for about two weeks. You could also just mix one to two tablespoons of the dried lavender flowers in with the sugar, this gives pretty flowers in your biscuit mix too. 

Lavender Sugar Cookie Recipe

100g / 4oz Butter / block margarine
100g / 4oz caster / superfine sugar (or lavender sugar if using)
1 egg white (two tablespoons)
1 tsp lavender flavouring (if using)
Violet gel colour (optional)
200g / 8oz plain flour


This is best done in a mixer, if you want to do it by hand, rub the margarine into the butter until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, stir in the sugar and then mix in the egg white until it forms a dough, pressing together if necessary.

In a mixer:
  1. Mix or beat the butter or margarine with the sugar and lavender flavouring or lavender sugar. 
  2. Mix or beat in the egg white with a little gel colour if you want to use it
  3. Mix in the flour until a cookie dough forms.

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface until about half a centimetre or a quarter of an inch thick. Cut out your cookie shapes, choosing  a cutter the same size as the mould you are using or a little smaller as the cookies may spread slightly when cooked.

Decorating the cookies


- lavender coloured fondant or sugar paste
- chrysanthemum mould
- edible glue or piping gel
- edible gold paint if you fancy painting one gold.

I have decorated these cookies using this Classic Chrysanthemum mould by First Impressions. This mould does require a little patience and may to be the best to start with if you have not tried moulding with fondant before.

I find it difficult to pop the moulded paste out without putting it in the freezer, so, because I am going to freeze it, I often make it with ordinary sugar paste rather than modelling paste. 

  1. Take a piece of sugar paste about the size of a small walnut and knead until smooth.  If your fondant is very sticky, rub a little vegetable fat (trex) between your palms. Roll into a ball and press firmly into the mould.
  2. If you have too much sugar paste, remove the excess. I like to do this by rolling a toothpick across the top, from the centre outwards
  3. If you don't have enough sugar paste, add a little more
  4. Use your finger to smooth around and tidy up all the edges.
  5. If you are lucky, flex the mould and your flower will pop out. (One of mine popped right out)
  6. If your flower doesn't pop out, place it in the freezer for around fifteen minutes or longer if necessary.
  7. Use edible glue or piping gel to attach the flowers onto the biscuits.
  8. If you want to paint one or more, wait 24 hours until the flowers are dry. They get a little moist as they unfreeze. I used two coats of Squires Kitchen edible gold paint to get this effect

 That's all for today
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Summer Skies Buttercream Beauty

Sometimes a cake is the product of hours planning, slaving and perfecting, not today though, today's three layer vanilla sponge cake is just something pretty for tea, hastily photographed in my kitchen window to share with you.
A Birthday cake
The cake above is a (quickly snapped on my phone) picture of a Birthday cake that I made for the daughter of a colleague recently, I took it to work for the handover and some of the ladies and gents there were having a sneaky peek. One in particular, (you know who you are) was inhaling so deeply, he was practically drinking the cake through his nose! (Even though I do say so myself, it did smell delicious.)

Well, it just so happened that this particular colleague and his wife were popping over at the weekend for a walk and a spot of tea, so later on I enquired as to his favourite cake, he um-ed and ah-ed and eventually decided on ... "anything with buttercream" and so I promised him a buttercream cake for Saturday tea. Now this was all happened on Friday, so you can understand why this is one hastily put together cake, I decided that I would show it to you, with its imperfections, as sometimes a cake doesn't need to go in the fridge before you ice it, have a crumb coat before its top coat and hours and hours spent perfecting its icing.This whole cake was made on a Saturday morning whilst making breakfast and generally entertaining my beautiful boy.


This is a three layer six inch cake and to make one of these you need a four egg mix.


Start by weighing four eggs in their shells, they will probably weigh about 200g or 8oz, or so, and then measure out equal amounts of

- butter or margarine
- caster sugar
- self raising flour
- 1tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1. Cream together the butter, margarine and vanilla extract, if using, until really pale and fluffy
2. Beat the eggs a little to break them up
3. Slowly add the eggs (Add a tablespoon or so of the flour if the mixture curdles)
4. Finally add the flour. Once the flour is added - mix lightly until just combined.

Divide mixture equally between cake tins and bake at 350F / 180C for about 20 to 25 minutes.

The cake is iced with a simple buttercream icing. As the weather was warm and humid I used twice as much icing sugar as butter to ensure that the buttercream did not melt.

I wanted this buttercream to be sky blue. Blue can be difficult to achieve in buttercream because the buttercream is yellow in colour. To achieve a true blue, you need to take the yellow out of the butter, the way to do this (and i know it sounds strange) is to add violet to cancel our the yellow.

4oz / 250g butter softened
8oz / 500g icing / confectioners sugar
1tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Beat the butter with the vanilla extract, if using, until really soft. If you want to colour your icing, it is a good idea to add the colour now. Use the violet to cancel out the yellow - add a little at a time and beat until well mixed. When you have added enough, the butter will have turned to an unappealing shade of pale grey sludge. This is just what you want and the time to add your blue.

Next add the icing sugar about one third at a time, beating well after each addition until all incorporated. Spread and smooth your icing and then have fun with some piping. I piped the icing on this cake using a Wilton 32 nozzle / tip.

Hope you like it!

That's all for today
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Friday, 10 August 2012

Green Tea Springerle Cookies

There is something about Springerles. I don't quite know what it is, just so beautiful I suppose. This Round Rose mould from House on the Hill is one of my favourites. To see how this mould can also be used with fondant have a look at my Old Rose Cookies.

I have seen a lot of recipes using green tea in cookies and cupcakes and couldn't imagine how this might taste, so really wanted to make something with green tea in it and this is how the green tea and springerle fusion came about, one day, in my kitchen.

These cookies then, are a bit of an experiment. I  adapted my sugar cookie recipe by using confectioners / icing sugar instead of caster sugar and replacing some of the flour in the recipe with green tea powder and this is the result. I can't quite believe how beautifully they have turned out (even if i do say so myself!).

The type of powder you need is called matcha powder. (Check it out on Wiki) I was lucky enough to go on a cruise of South America some years ago and remember seeing the locals walking round with their special cups full of matcha powder. The matcha cups were filled hot water, then the tea drunk through a special straw in the cup. The same powder is re-used for the next cup of tea. I remember the locals being quite bemused by the tourists wanting to take pictures of them drinking their matcha.

The powder in the UK is not terribly common and quite pricey, so I halved the quantities of my usual recipe for these cookies so as not to use too much matcha.

Matcha has a whole  load of claims for various health benefits, so you really can eat these with a clear conscious, knowing that they are, at least partly, good for you. Apparently matcha is packed full of antioxidants, may help boost metabolism and reduce cholesterol.

I took these cookies to work for a taste test and have to say there were some mixed results. Some wrinkled noses, some musings about an acquired taste or how they might be nice with cheese (cheese - really?) and some rather liking them, the recipe follows  so if you curiosity is piqued too, have a go and see what you think.


100g / 4oz butter
100g / 4oz icing / confectioers sugar
1 egg white (or 1 1/2 table spoons of egg white)
185g / 7 1/2 oz plain flour
15g / 1/2 oz matcha powder

1. Cream together the butter and sugar until just mixed
2. Add the add white and mix until just incorporated
3. Mix together the flour and matcha, slowly as the matcha powder is very fine
4. Add the mixed flour and matcha and mix until it looks like cookie dough.
5. Add a little more flour if the mixture is sticky.

Making the cookies

1. Knead a couple of handfuls of dough a little to bring it together and then roll it out about 1.5 cm thick
2. Press your mould down on top to make an impression.
3. Carefully lift the mould. If you are not happy with the impression, roll and mould again
4. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the mould and place on a baking / cookie sheet
5. Pop the tray of cookies into the freezer for about 10 minutes
6. Bake at 165 C, 150 c fan or about 320 F for 15 to 25 minutes. You want to catch the biscuits when they all look dry, but before they start to turn brown.

I hope you have a go at these


That's all for today
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