This last week has been pretty tough one for us both and as much as we’ve tried to avoid Christmas lets be honest, you just can’t run away from it. We had so much hope for Christmas this year and all the things we’d do together as a new little family, so it’s proving pretty painful. Initially we were going to boycott it completely but last weekend we turned a corner and decided we’d actually quite like a little tree for Archie. I’ve always had massive trees, so to make it a bit different and special we bought a little potted one. It is totally lobsided, only about 2ft tall and I’ve really grown to love it. We’ve left all our usual decorations in the cupboard and simply decorated it with lights, a couple of handmade decorations that have been made especially for Archie and biscuits. Monday night, after a particularly hard day we went about making these biscuits and the couple that left the kitchen an hour later were changed people. Gone were the tears and in their place was a sense of peace. It’s a super straightforward recipe and there was something very calming about making them. We printed names on them and cut out festive shapes. Very simple and beautiful and our little Christmas tree is full of love.
So now I’m going to be perfectly frank with you, this recipe isn’t going to blow your mind (having said that the biscuits are pretty addictive in a simple ‘rich tea/ digestive biscuit’ kind of way! I just polished off three for breakfast) but what it does do is give you a perfect dough for cutting, shaping, printing on and threading. Your stars and angles will have perfect points to them and your letters will be legible. And please for one minute do not think these aren’t good biscuits, they really are! But I’m going for style over substance on this post and wanted to give you a basic but foolproof recipe. None of my usual jazzy baking – just good solid biscuits that your nan would probably like.
Jazz them up as you wish, ground cinnamon for a festive feel, and/ or a little finely grated orange zest. Or lemon zest… or just stick to vanilla. It’s all good.
SIMPLE COOKIE CUTTER BISCUITS
Makes 40 – 50 biscuits (depending on the size of your cutters! Halve if you want to make less but this was perfect for our tree. And for lots of gifts too)
- 200g lightly salted butter, at room temperature (unorthodox I know but I quite like the saltiness to these… use unsalted if you wish)
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, free range or organic
- 575g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract (or finely grated orange or lemon zest or peppermint extract or coconut extract… the possibilities are endless. If you do flavour with peppermint or coconut remember you only need a few drops!)
Preheat your oven to 180/ gas mark 4. Line a couple baking sheets with greaseproof paper. (Don’t worry if you only have one sheet or tray, you can just keep reusing it).
Cream together the butter and caster sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. (Feel free to do this in a freestanding mixer if you have one). Beat together the eggs and vanilla (or whatever flavour you are using) in a small bowl or jug, and gradually pour into the creamed butter, beating it in bit by bit. Finally mix in the flour until you have a smooth dough. If you are only doing these for decorations then you won’t have to worry too much about over mixing but really you don’t want to knead or over work the dough as you’ll end up with tough biscuits. The lighter you can keep it the better the texture.
Divide you mixture into 2 or 3 to make it easier to work with. Keep the dough you aren’t using in the fridge whilst you roll out the rest, so that it doesn’t become too soft. (You can even wrap it in cling film and bake later on, or the next day if you don’t have a lot of time or want fresh biscuits at a later date.) Roll the dough out on a floured surface, so that it is the thickness of a £1 coin (about 1cm) and cut out your shapes. Try to get the most out of the dough, because the more times you bring the scraps together and re-roll it the tougher your biscuits become.
Remember to pierce holes into the biscuits if you are making them as decorations! I used the thick end of a wooden skewer or a chop stick will do.
Bake the biscuits for around 9 – 10 minutes, depending on the size (less if you are making diddy ones) and then leave on the baking sheet for a further 3-4 minutes to firm up a little more. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before decorating or threading with ribbon.