Well, Summer is definitely over for another year.
I’ve desperately been trying to hold on to it — refusing to wear proper shoes in favour of my flip flops — but, try as I might, autumn is upon us once more.
The leaves are already beginning to change colour, the air smells fresher and I *might* (OK, I actually did) put the heating on the other night because I was so cold).
So autumn — let’s not dwell on the onset of winter and cherish the here and now.
Let’s think of things about autumn that we do like.
Crunchy leaves that just beg to be jumped in. Tick.
Wearing cosy socks and snuggling on the sofa under an emergency blanket (anyone else have one of those by the way?).
Colourful opaque tights and chunky knits? Lovely.
Aaah Halloween. Anything that gives a valid excuse for a party is good for me. I’m there with bells on or — in this instance — a witches hat ;)
So to cheer myself up about the passing of summer, I’ve been busying myself and preparing for a Halloween party. Not 100% sure of the theme yet but I’ve had my head turned by Day Of The Dead themed decorations.
I love that it’s a little bit glam — less gruesome, more pretty — and I’m especially loving the sugar skull designs that seem to be popping up everywhere.
I’ve found so many fabulous props online (from the same place I got all the boy’s pirate party decorations from) but to add to the theme — even though it’s a month away— I decided to get my baking hat on and have a go at making some Sugar Skull iced biscuits.
I found a biscuit recipe courtesy of The Biscuiteers (you can read the original recipe here) — super easy to make and they taste delicious.
How to make spiced Sugar Skull biscuits
You will need:
200g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
50g dark muscovado sugar
100g salted butter softened and diced
50g black treacle
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3 before you begin making your biscuits or when ready to cook. I made 14 skulls — plus a tester biscuit!
Sift the flour, baking powder and all the spices into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.
Add the butter. Using just the tips of your fingers, rub the ingredients together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
When all the butter is evenly mixed in, make a well in the centre and add the treacle. Bring the mixture together to form a soft dough, combining lightly until it has an even colour with not too many streaks of treacle (I did this bit in the Kitchenaid to avoid handling it). Lightly form into a ball.
Divide into two and squash it into two even-sized flattish discs.
Place one disc of dough on a sheet of baking parchment. Begin by gently squashing the dough down with the rolling pin or your hands, cover with a second sheet of parchment then use the rolling pin to roll properly. If the top sheet crinkles, just peel it off, smooth it down gently and start rolling again. Gently roll the dough until it is 5mm thick all over.
Transfer the sheet of rolled dough, still sandwiched between its parchment, to a baking tray and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
Using your cutter — I bought mine from here plus some disposable piping bags for icing — cut out the biscuits as close together as possible, lifting each one on to a parchment-covered baking tray and making sure that they are not too close together, as the dough will spread a little on baking.
Evenly space the trays in the oven and cook for 12-16 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep a close eye on the first couple of batches you cook until you get used to the recipes and your oven*.
This was good advice for me — mine cooked in just 10 minutes in our AGA. In fact, a couple of the edges were a little charred — have already made a note for next time!
As Bertie is allergic to egg, I made royal icing using Aquafaba.
This is basically the water than you get in a can of chickpeas or butterbeans. It has the same consistency as egg white and worked an absolute treat!
How to make egg free Royal Icing
You will need:
8 tbsp of canned legume water (the water drained from a can of butterbeans/chickpeas/cannelloni beans — choose the unsalted variety)
500g of sifted icing sugar
Beat the water (I used butterbean) with an electric whisk or mixer until it goes frothy.
Then add the icing sugar spoon by spoon, on a high speed until you have the desired consistency.
I added my black food colouring paste at this stage and gave it another good mixing.
Over the past few years, I’ve watched SO many YouTube videos on how to line and flood iced biscuits but, up until now, have never had a go.
Needless to say, I think all the hours of watching other people may have rubbed off a little bit! I was a bit wobbly — certainly not up to the standard of the amazing YouTubers — but I really, really enjoyed it.
I think I may have found a new favourite hobby ;)
*husband runs away and hides*
Following lots of differing advice from the experts, I made my lining icing the consistency of toothpaste. The above icing recipe was perfect for this.
I piped a line around the edge of the biscuit first — then left it to dry for 10 minutes — then to flood the background of the biscuits, I watered the icing down a little, using a couple of teaspoonfuls of the Aquafaba. This made it much easier to work with as it was much looser — almost like the consistency of single cream.
When the backgrounds were dry (leave these overnight if you have time) you can start piping the patterns on the top.
I loved this bit.
Put as many squiggles and patterns on each skull as you dare! I didn’t follow any particular template but have been pinning sugar skulls to my Halloween party Pinterest board like a crazy woman, so most of the inspiration came from there!
Ta-daah! Sugar Skull Biscuits — done.
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Linking up with the lovely Le Coin De Mel for Free From Fridays