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Scandilicious Clementine Butter Biscuits

No one knows baking quite like Scandilicious author, Signe Johansen, and her Clementine Butter Biscuits have to be the prettiest way to see in the festive season … question is, how long do you reckon they will stay hanging on the Christmas tree?

I used to love making butter biscuits with my grandparents in Bergen when we visited at Christmas. The key to success with these is to keep the dough well chilled - the colder the dough, the crisper and lighter the biscuits. Royal icing is traditionally made with raw egg whites; however, since these biscuits are likely to be scoffed by small children, I use packet royal icing mix containing pasteurised whites. You can add a few drops of food colouring to the icing if you wish, but I like the contrast of the simple white icing against the green pine needles. In addition to the ingredients below, you will need some ribbon or silver / gold string to hang these on the Christmas tree.

Ingredients (makes about 20)

350g plain flour

¾ tsp fine (or finely crushed) sea salt

250g unsalted butter, well chilled

125g icing sugar

Zest of two clementines

One medium egg yolk, lightly beaten

One tsp vanilla extract

One tsp milk or water (if needed)

300g packet of royal icing

30g edible silver balls

Method

  • Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, grate in the butter and combine using your hands until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar and clementine zest and then add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and bring it all together. If the dough feels dry, mix in the teaspoon of milk or water to soften it. Divide the dough in two, shape in rounds, wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the freezer and leave to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3-4 and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until roughly 3mm thick, then use a pastry cutter to cut out star, heart or other festive shapes. Each biscuit will need a small hole to thread ribbon or string through later, so use a sharp pointed knife to cut out a little circle (about 3-5mm across) near the top edge of each one. Place on the baking trays and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Allow the biscuits to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • Make up the royal icing in accordance with the instructions on the packet and then ice the biscuits using a piping bag or small spoon. You can cover the biscuits with a simple smooth blanket of icing or you can get arty with lines, wiggles, criss-crosses, dots… let your imagination run riot! Dot the icing with silver balls and allow to set completely before tying loops of ribbon or string through the holes and hanging your festive biscuits on the tree.

© Signe Johansen 2012.Recipe extracted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, out now published by Saltyard Books, £25

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