Before you get started on icing your biscuits (cookies) you need to create the perfect biscuit base. We bake at least 200 – 250 biscuits a week for classes. I thought I would share a few tips that I have learnt through my biscuit baking experiences. I trained as a chef down in Durban many years ago, my passion back then was food more than baking. I have never considered myself a great baker, but over the years through trial and error (lots of errors and awful baked biscuits) I have learnt a few things.
I believe the perfect character biscuit needs to be about 6.25mm thick, slightly golden (I do not like my biscuits too blond), crunchy, smooth on the top, a perfect shape (no spreading or shrinking)
With these following tips you’ll be baking the perfect biscuit in no time.
When you eye ball the thickness, sometimes a biscuit can be uneven, thick one side and thin the other. I use a PME rolling pin so I can add PME large rolling pin guides on the ends. These rolling pin guides help keep the biscuit dough even. They come in a pack of 4 different sizes, I use the yellow guides, which are 6.25mm high.
These guides are available in our shop click HERE for more information.
I make my dough the day before I bake the biscuits. When the dough has rested and is chilled, it doesn’t spread or loose shape as easily. Over mixing your dough can lead to tough misshaped biscuits, so once you have added the flour, try not to over mix the dough too much. Eggs and butter must also be at room temperature, otherwise they do not combine properly, leaving your dough with little lumps of butter. Also use butter not margarine. Margarine contains too much water which will cause your dough to be too wet resulting in misshaped biscuits.
I cut my dough in half, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge. (for at least 2 hours, or even better overnight)
Cutting out your biscuits (cookies)
I like to use metal cutters which are available in our online shop, but if I can’t find the shape I am looking for I will use a plastic one (preferably without a lid)
Lightly flour your surface, do not over flour the surface as this will dry out your biscuit dough. You can roll your dough between two pieces of baking paper, to use less flour but I can never get this right, so I just use as little flour as possible. I try not to over roll my dough either, over rolled dough causes biscuits to shrink and change shape.
Once cut out, carefully lift your cut biscuit with a palette knife and transfer them to the baking tray, cover your baking tray with baking paper (not waxed paper), otherwise the biscuits will stick to your baking tray.
If you make biscuits to order, you can freeze your unbaked biscuits. Layer them in a large plastic container with baking paper in between each layer to save space in your freezer. There is no need to defrost them, they bake perfectly from frozen.
Baking your biscuits (cookies)
Remember everyone’s oven is different.
Try not to overcrowd your baking tray, the heat battles to get to all the biscuits causing them to bake unevenly. I recommend about 12 large biscuits and 15 smaller per tray. Keep in mind the different sizes of your biscuits, each size will have a slightly different baking time. Once your biscuits are baked perfectly, cool them on a wire rack.
Once they are 100% cool, they are ready to ice. If you live in a humid climate like I do, my baked biscuits tend to go soft quickly. Store them in an airtight container for longer lasting freshness.
Once you have iced and dried the icing correctly, seal them in individual bags for the best shelf life, about 4-6 weeks.
If you live in a drier climate (count yourself blessed) you will still need to seal your biscuits in an airtight container or bag.
For the best vanilla cookie recipe visit my online shop, it’s available for R99 plus you get my royal icing recipe with some hints and tips on icing consistency.
Happy baking and biscuit making….