Sunday, 3 January 2016

How to royal ice cookies (without using egg white)

To make royal icing without egg white:

Mix 600g icing sugar, 4 teaspoons glycerine and the juice of 2 lemons. Beat slowly for 2 minutes until smooth.

You can colour the icing - I find these gels are great and a little goes a long way. 

Available in Asda last time I looked
You can use the icing to pipe or use with a stencil - it is not as white as normal royal icing and is slightly more translucent, so if you're not adding colour you could add whitener

You can also mix in a little water to use this icing for flooding. It is already wetter than stiff royal icing so only use a few drops of water. A good test is when a thin ribbon of the icing has disappeared back into the rest after about 8 seconds
The ribbon test
To ice a cookie, fill a small piping bag with icing ready for flooding and either snip a small hole at the end or use a nozzle - I used a PME plain nozzle size 3. Outline the cookie, fill in the line again on the inside and then "colour in" the centre.

You can use a cocktail stick to fill in any little patches you've missed - this works better than adding more and more icing, as it will at some point burst the banks of your outline and spill off the cookie. You can also use a cocktail stick to finesse sharp angles and points.

While the icing is still wet you can "drop in" detail in a contrasting colour of flooded icing. As the two icings are of the same consistency they will settle to become flush with each other. I used a PME plain nozzle size 1. You could also add on sprinkles while the icing is wet.

Alternatively you can wait for the cookie to dry and add details on top, but I found the egg-free icing was more prone to flaking off than normal royal icing, so I stuck to a completely flat surface.

Leave the cookies to dry overnight, or put them in the oven for an hour on a very low setting of less than 50 degrees C.

I don't think the results are quite as neat as with normal royal icing and the surface is slightly  dimpled and uneven, but for an egg free royal icing this is the best recipe I've found. Except of course for the aqua faba recipe for royal icing here that gives neater results.


Lastly, here is a good recipe for vegan gingerbread. I've found it stays harder and crunchier than gingerbread made with butter, so it's perfect for gingerbread houses and Christmas tree decorations where you don't want the biscuit to soften. Enjoy!

Gingerbread recipe

Makes about 30 biscuits, depending on size

·       150g light soft brown sugar
·       4 tbsp golden syrup
·       2 tbsp black treacle
·       1 tbsp ground ginger
·       1tbsp ground cinnamon
·       pinch ground cloves
·       175g dairy free margarine
·       1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
·       400g plain flour

Put the sugar, syrup, treacle and spices in a pan, add 2 tablespoons of water and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine until melted. Mix in the bicarbonate of soda, then sieve in the flour while the mix is still warm. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick and cut out the shapes with a cutter. It helps if you dip the cutter in flour.

Place on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray. 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Speculoos wholemeal biscuits (vegan)

Last year I went to Bruges and discovered the joys of wholemeal Speculoos biscuits, which are somehow tastier than the normal ones. I've played around with the recipe to make a vegan version:

Thanks to my sister Lucy for this new biscuit tin after my last one met a tragic end  on a tiled floor


100g dairy free margarine
80g soft light brown sugar
20g agave nectar or golden syrup
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons speculoos spices (to make 100g Speculoos spices, mix 8g ground white pepper, 8g powdered ginger, 16g ground cloves, 16g ground nutmeg, 48g ground cinnamon and 4g ground cardamon - keep the rest in a jar for next time)
2 tablespoons soya milk
200g wholemeal flour
35g oatbran (you'll find it hiding in the cereal section of a supermarket)


Cream the margarine, sugar and spices together until they are light and fluffy, then add in the milk and agave nectar or golden syrup.

Mix in the flour and oatbran, then wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and line two baking trays.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4mm and cut out shapes. This isn't an easy dough to work with - use a generous dusting of white flour on your work surface, rolling pin and dough as it will stick and try to fall apart. Just tell it who's boss and crack on.

Place the biscuits on the baking trays and bake for 12 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray, the biscuits will harden as they cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate.