I’m a bit of an avid baker (as you can probably tell from my stash of recipes, here), but three years at university haven’t really done much for my hobby; between tiny student kitchens with bad lighting, and a range of housemates always keeping the kitchens busy, over the years, baking became an ‘at home’ kind of thing.
However, since moving back to London for good, I’ve been itching to get back to my old favourite past time, and when I was lucky enough to be allowed to try this gorgeous paisley print embossing rolling pin (*) from Print Stitch Bake, I knew it was the perfect excuse!
Vanilla sugar cookies are one of my favourite things to bake; cut-out cookies were always the baking project of choice, when I was growing up, probably because they’re so easy to make, so I always get a wave of nostalgia whenever I whip up a batch. I even managed to dig some cookie cutters out of my ‘baking cupboard’ (am I the only one who has one of those?), so there were a nice variety of shapes!
This particular dough recipe is one I’ve been using for as long as I can remember, because it’s not too sweet. I’d never tried it with fondant, but it’s actually a lovely combination, without being too sickly.
The dough itself is very easy to roll out after being chilled for a little while, and doesn’t spread at all during baking, so you can cram quite a few onto the sheet.
Now, I’m not very experienced with fondant, and I don’t even own a food thermometer (oops!), so I decided it best to try out these pre-coloured ready to roll icing packs from Sainsbury’s, and I have to say, I’m very impressed with them. They taste better than a lot of other store-bought fondants, and they are very easy to work with, so I’d really recommend giving them a go if you’re a bit nervous about making your own.
The most important thing about working with fondant is making sure you take the time to warm it up and make it pliable. It’s a little like kneading bread, really: lightly flour your surface, and really work it over before you roll it out. Make sure your rolling pin is floured, too, otherwise it’ll get stuck (I learned that the hard way when I forgot to flour mine).
Also, when it comes to fondant, remember you really have to get a thin layer; you don’t want your cookie/cake/cupcake to taste of nothing but icing, right?
Once the icing is all rolled out, it’s time for the fun part; embossing it! This particular rolling pin* is acrylic, so it doesn’t stick like a regular rolling pin would, and you don’t have to worry about flouring it up (or getting flour marks all over the pattern!). It’s actually incredibly easy to use, and it looks so impressive when it’s done! Plus it’s super easy to wash, which every amateur baker knows is a huge bonus.
When the fondant is embossed, it’s as simple as using whatever you used to cut out the cookies to cut out the icing, too, then dabbing a little water on the back of the fondant and placing it onto the cookie. Done!
PAISLEY PRINT EMBOSSED VANILLA SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
- 230 g unsalted butter
- 250 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract not essence!
- 375 g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Fondant icing – either ready-to-roll or your own
Cut the unsalted butter into cubes, and cream into the caster sugar. If using a hand mixer, this should take about 3 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy.
Beat the egg and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mixture, mixing until just combined.
Sieve the flour into the mix, along with the salt. Combine with a spatula/wooden spoon, until it’s fully incorporated. It should form a relatively sturdy ball.
Roll out a sheet of cling film, and deposit the ball of dough onto it. Flatten the ball until it’s a disc shape, about an inch thick, then cover with another layer of cling film, and chill in the fridge for about an hour.
Once chilled, preheat your oven to Gas Mark 3 (170°C/325°F). Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface.
With a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/2cm thick, and use your cookie cutters to cut out your biscuits. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can use a glass.
Place the cut out biscuits onto a baking-parchment-lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden in colour.
Once the cookies are done, remove them from the oven and place them on a wire cooling rack.
Whilst the cookies are baking, you can start rolling out your fondant; simply knead on a lightly floured surface for two to three minutes, until completely pliable, then roll out with a well-floured rolling pin, to about 1/4cm thickness.
If you’re embossing your fondant, take the rolling pin, and, starting at the end of your fondant, roll the embosser over the sheet of icing, applying light and even pressure until the end. Be careful not to push down too hard.
Cut out pieces of the embossed fondant using the same cookie cutter as used on your biscuits. You can use a palette knife to prise any bits of fondant that are stuck to the counter up.
Dab a light layer of water on the back of the fondant, and gently lower it onto the cookie. It’s fine if the cookies are still warm, the fondant won’t melt like other icing might. Repeat until all the cookies are covered, and you’re done!