Monthly Archives: May 2011

Retro Party Rings

This post has been a while in the making. Back in April Tate & Lyle sent me a limited edition box of royal icing sugar The intention was to use the sugar for a Royal Wedding bake, but of course the sugar wasn’t suitable for the Mr Whippy Cakes I made so it’s been sitting in the cupboard waiting for when I had some free baking time. The one thing you can guarantee for the late spring bank holiday is that it won’t just rain it’ll pour which meant I had a whole day free to bake until my heart was content. So with Paloma Faith & Noisettes cranked up on the stereo, pinny on, I headed to the kitchen.

Anyone who celebrated their childhood birthdays in the 80s will remember parties with glee. No fancy parties for us. We were happy with pass the parcel, what’s the time Mr Wolf? and a table laid with the finest of E-number crammed treats. Bring on the cheese & pineapple on sticks pushed into a jacket potato in foil to look like a hedgehog, day-glo Wotsits, Fondant Fancies and most importantly the bright Party Rings.

It’s no lie that Hubs is addicted to Party Rings and he can quite easily get through a packet of them in one sitting so for my first foray into biscuit decorating I knew I had to try these party classics. I had been recommended The Pink Whisk’s Sugar Cookie recipe as being perfect for this type of biscuit. Yes this recipe does make a huge amount of dough but it can be frozen as a ball or sheet of dough or even as unbaked biscuits. Just open freeze the cut out shapes, place in a ziploc bag and bake as a when you need them. I have cut some biscuits ready to make Jammy Dodgers in the near future.

The icing on party rings is flavoured but the packing gives little away as to what flavour it is so I went for raspberry after picking a small bottle of raspberry flavouring from Asda. To be honest doesn’t taste anything like raspberry, has more of a fake bubblegum taste but does give the icing a very similar taste to the icing used on party rings.

Given this is the first time I’ve decorated biscuits with royal icing it was a learning experience. I had originally piped the contrasting lines on the biscuits that were going to be feathered but this didn’t work as the lines dried before the other icing was pooled on top giving an odd look when the cocktail stick was drawn through the icing. I could also do with getting some more writing icing nozzles. I only have one so instead of using piping bags and tips to pipe the outlines I just used three small sandwich bags with the corners very slightly cut off. This method does work, but would be neater if tips were used.

My rustic versions of Party Rings passed the Hubs test and true to form they fit on the fingers just like the originals do.

Party Rings
Dough recipe from The Pink Whisk
Makes around 50!

225g butter

225g caster sugar

1 egg, large

1dsp vanilla extract

375g plain flour

500g royal icing sugar

90ml water

pink, purple and yellow food dye

raspberry flavouring

1) Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then mix in the egg and vanilla. Sift in the flour and mix until you have a well mixed dough.

2) Split the dough in half and place one half between two sheets of baking parchment. Roll out until dough is around 4mm thick. Repeat with the other ball of dough, then chill the dough for 30 minutes.

3) Using a 6cm diameter cutter cut out rounds then using a 1.5cm cutter cut out a hole in the middle. Place the rings on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Place back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. If you wanted to freeze some of the dough, open freeze it at this stage then once they are frozen place in a ziploc bag and cook at a later date.

4) Preheat the oven to 160°c (fan)/180°c then cook the biscuits straight from the fridge for 12-15 minutes until beginning to turn golden brown.

5) Once the biscuits have baked transfer to wire rack and leave to cool completely before icing. You could bake them in advance as long as you keep the cooled biscuits in a Tupperware box to stop them going soggy.

6) Split the icing sugar equally between 3 bowls. Gradually add the water until you have a pipeable icing paste. You don’t want it too thin at the moment or it’ll dribble off the biscuits. Colour the 3 bowls of icing with food dye and stir in a splash of raspberry flavouring.

7) Put the icing into piping bags and pipe an outer and inner ring on the biscuits. This will contain the puddled icing later. Allow the lines to dry for a few minutes.

8 ) Put the icing back into the bowls and thin with some water until the icing puddles. It should act like self leveling concrete. Using a teaspoon put some of the icing on the biscuits and guide the icing into place with a cocktail stick. Using another cocktail stick and some contrasting icing dribble lines of colour on top of the base icing and then drag a cocktail stick through the lines to give the feathered effect. Allow to dry. Store in a Tupperware container.

A visit from the Fairy Hobmother

Anyone who read UK food blogs at the moment couldn’t have failed to notice the Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online popping up everywhere. When Eat Like a Girl wrote a blogpost about the Fairy Hobmother visiting her and giving her a Magimix I knew I had to take my chance and see if they would pay me a visit. It’s a kind of Chain Fairy, hopping from blog to blog and spreading some good will. Appliances Online, sell cookers and other white goods. When we finally move house I know where I’ll be heading to fill my new kitchen.

It’s no lie that all my money at the moment is being ploughed back into my business so when I was emailed to say I was being given £20 Amazon voucher I wanted to spend it on something for me. Unfortunately Amazon or Appliances Online don’t do haircuts so instead treated myself to a pair of Le Creuset Stoneware Soup Bowls in almond and a Kuhn Rikon Decorating Squeeze Bottle.

If you would like to have the chance of the Appliances Online Fairy Hobmother making a visit to you all you have to do is leave a comment below.

Well that was May!

May has zoomed by and I’ve only just spotted that it’s been nearly a month since I’ve blogged. Hello serious drop in my Wikio rating! While I’ve been quiet on the blogging front it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.

* I’ve appeared on BBC Radio Derby twice; once to talk about current affairs and the other time to talk about the uptake of school dinners in Derbyshire.

* I visited the Real Food Festival in London and met some great bloggers and producers. The rubbish blogger I am meant I deliberately didn’t take my camera with me. I was already lugging enough stuff with me.

* Both of us helped Wendy from Quirky Cookies out on her stall at Derbyshire Food Festival in the grounds of the beautiful Hardwick Hall. We had a lovely time and it was a great insight to seeing a food business being run.

* The first half of the summer term has been and nearly gone. I’ve been busy in my business teaching kids the art of baked apples and calzone along with turning up to a class to find Spy Dog entertaining my pupils.

* The cookbook I helped to test recipes for is about to be released. Everyone keep an eye out for Vanessa Kimbell – Prepped.

* I’ve been working on a top-secret & exciting project with a big brand. I can reveal all very soon.

* Hubs has been on at Food Smoking course at Seasoned. When I can pin him down to write it, there will be a blogpost.

* After a harsh winter and early spring the garden is springing back to life. Most importantly the grapevine we were given for our wedding is fruiting for the first time. Just in time for our 4th wedding anniversary  next week where the traditional gift is fruit.

Next week is half term so expect a flurry of blog posts again!

%d bloggers like this: