The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 8 Challenges.
Total Cooking Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
The Great British Bake Off is a classic show for bakers and those looking for a friendly competition. All the bakes on the show look delicious and I often want to try baking them myself! I finally got off the couch and into the kitchen to recreate some of the recipes from Bake Off! I chose to start with season eight of Bake Off as it is my favorite season and the one with some of my favorite challenges!
This week’s challenge is one that I have been absolutely dreading… The technical for the finale is icing twelve ginger biscuits (or cookies). Now, that sounds simple, but the simplest things often tend to be the most difficult. And this challenge left my hand cramping after piping for what felt like hours. For this recipe, I did use the one Prue listed on the Great British Bake-Off Website. Templates for the design can be found there as well.
There are quite a few ingredients that went into baking the ginger cookies. Mainly a lot of spices. What I found interesting was the combination of brown sugar and molasses. Since brown sugar is already a combination of granulated sugar and molasses, I guess we wanted even more of that molasses flavor.
Otherwise, very standard cookie ingredients. I did like that the royal icing had lemon juice. I have also never cut it with water before to get to the right consistency so that was a great lesson to learn.
Making the Ginger Cookie Dough
Before I can do anything, I need to make some ginger cookies. I started by beating together the butter, brown sugar, and molasses. I wanted to get a light and fluffy texture with a minimal grainy feel.
Then, I added egg, beaten together, in small batches, to give the butter mixture a more liquid feel. In a separate bowl, I combined the dry ingredients. This is the flour, baking soda, and all the spices. I whisked them together to give the dry ingredients more consistency that if I were to add them to the wet mixture directly.
I like adding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches. This helps the dry ingredients incorporate into the wet ingredients a little better than if I added them all at once. When everything is just combined, the dough is ready.
The dough was a little sticker than I anticipated just going off of the recipe. I decided to do my best with it, and it turned into an exceptionally light cookie. For less sticky cookies, add more flour. But it will make the cookie denser in the end.
Chilling and Shaping
Before we can get to shaping the dough, I had to chill it for about an hour to let it take shape. I did smush it down before putting in the fridge the first time to make it easier to manipulate after the dough has been chilled. To me, chilling meant using the fridge. I regret not doing it in the freezer. Life lessons.
After the chill, I rolled out the dough to have an approximate 5 mm thickness. Then it was time to cut out the shapes! I printed out a square and oval that was the correct size to use as templates for cutting. The square is 8cm by 8cm and the oval is 10cm in length. I did have to reroll some of the trimmings to get all twelve cookies out of the dough. I also just struggled with the stickiness of the dough. Again, regretting not using the freezer.
I made the shapes and then put the cookies back into the freezer! The cookies chilled once again to help the shape set. I want to make sure that the cookies didn’t expand or deform while baking and the chilling helps set everything up. I did my best, but I think the fridge was going to let me down again. But I was determined to keep on this one track.
Afterwards, I baked the cookies for about 10 minutes until they were golden brown. They smelled irresistible and I wanted to eat them before putting on the icing. But self-control is something I pretend to be good at, so I was able to hold off. (I also baked a few extra because I knew I would want a small snack).
There was some expansion in the oven, so I ended up doing some cutting at the end to create the shapes that I wanted. I did this with the templates and a sharp knife. Plus, the trimmings were a bonus snack!
I have made royal icing often before, but I find myself struggling when it comes to doing detailed work when piping. This was one of the biggest reasons why I was nervous about this challenge. I started out the same way as always – whisking the eggs into oblivion and adding in the powdered sugar.
One ingredient that I didn’t expect to use was lemon juice. It really brightened up the royal icing and I’m sure there is a chemical aspect that is happening with the acid. The last really important ingredient was water I used water to manipulate they icing to be the right consistency which was either outline (for detail work) or flooding (for larger areas).
Once the cookies have cooled, it’s time to pipe some icing! I did my best to follow the pattern given by Prue on the GBBO website and, let me tell you, my wrists are so sore. There is a lot of detailed piping work going on here.
This could have gone in a lot of different directions. I thought I was doing pretty admirably adapting to the challenges that my kitchen decided to throw at me. The one thing I ended up on is either I didn’t get the right size for the cookies, or I didn’t have a number one piping nozzle.
Either way, I wasn’t able to get the detailed piping work that I wanted. I felt like I never had enough room! I would also add more ginger if I was to make these cookies again. While the amount of ginger makes a flavorful cookie, I wanted the ginger to hit me in the face.
Am I ready for bake-off? I’m not sure. I did not feel confident coming out of this challenge because detail work is not my strong suit. I do feel like if I ever did Bake Off, detail work would be my biggest downfall
Outline vs Flooding Icing Consistencies
When it comes to piping, there are three major kinds of consistencies for royal icing: Piping consistency, outline consistency, and flooding consistency. Piping consistency is very still and becomes awfully hard after drying. This type of icing is a glue within baking projects (i.e., gingerbread houses).
Outline consistency is good for outlining and doing detailed work. While it is softer than piping consistency, it does hold its shape creating a soft peak very pulled. Flooding consistency is great for filling in the outlines. This icing will be soft enough to pull back into itself with no peaks but still be thick enough to hold its shape.
Iced Ginger Cookies
- 6 Icing Bags
- 11 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- ½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 2 Teaspoon Molasses
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1 ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ¾ Tablespoon Baking Soda
- 1 ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 3 Egg Whites
- 5 ¾ Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- Blue, Yellow, Green, and Red Food Coloring
- In a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and molasses until fluffy. Add the egg in small increments, beating well between each addition.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the Flour, Baking Soda, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Salt, and Ground Cloves. In small increments, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined.
- Place the dough on a 1 sheet of baking paper. Place another sheet on top and press until the dough is a flat layer. Chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- On a lightly floured work surface, rollout to the dough to be approximately 5mm thick. Cut out 6 squares and 6 oval biscuits (re-roll trimming as necessary). Chill until firm.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for 1 minute on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Using a whisk (or stand mixer), mix together the eggs and 3 tablespoons of the icing sugar in a large bowl. Then mix in the lemon juice.
- Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and mix thoroughly until the icing holds it shape. (Overbeating the icing will cause bubbles to form)
- Divide the icing into three bowls. Leave two of these three bowls white. Divide the third bowl into four and color(blue, yellow green, and red)
- Drop by drop, add water to the colored icing and mix to an outline consistency. Spoon into a piping bag and fit with a no. 1 writing nozzle
- Drop by drop, add water to one of the bowls of white icing to mix to an outline consistency. Spoon into a piping bag with a no. 1 writing nozzle.
- Drop by drop, add water to the other bowl of white icing until it reaches a flooding consistency. Spoon into a piping bag with a no. 3 writing nozzle.
- Decorate cookies according to the template. Or however you like!