Iced biscuits are more popular than ever. Not only do they look and taste amazing. They also come in all shapes, sizes and designs, and therefore make an excellent gift for a special occasion or event.
We have put this guide together so you know all the lingo around iced biscuits, AND will kit you out with our recipe and technique (scroll down to get to recipe), so you can give making iced biscuits a go yourself!
What are iced biscuits?
Iced biscuits can be a number of different things. Therefore, it is important that when you ask for a quote, you make sure that you specify what type of iced biscuit you are after. As the price can vary massively depending on the variety. There are two main types of iced biscuits:
As the name suggests, this is a biscuit with a layer of fondant on top. The beauty of these biscuits is that the fondant can be embossed with a message, logo or design. The fondant can come in all colours, and they can be mixed, for example for a marbled effect. Be wary that many shop-bought “ready to roll” fondant brands use palm oil. Some shops use sustainably sourced palm oil, which is a good alternative. At The Biskery, all iced biscuits are made with fondant containing sustainably sourced palm oil. Iced biscuits come in all shapes and sizes, and are comparatively cheap, as they are quicker to make than the below hand-iced variety.
Biscuits hand-iced with royal icing
These are the crème de la crème of the biscuit world. A biscuit is flood-iced with runny royal icing (which consists of water, icing sugar, egg white powder, so by default not vegan, but can be made vegan). This base is then air-dried or baked at a very low temperature before being hand-finished with thicker royal icing.
These biscuits are a great choice if you are after a high-end product that has a hand-made look to it. Designs that lend themselves well to be hand iced with royal icing are simple logos or colourful designs. Intricate designs can be very expensive to make into hand-iced biscuits, simply because of the work involved. To give you some insight: It takes 2.5 hours to produce 10 of the above biscuits – you are paying for the time here more than anything:
A hybrid version: Meaning a fondant base layer, with a hand-piped royal icing finish. This is our preferred offering (see example above) as we can produce them at a much cheaper unit price than the fully hand-iced option. We believe that the difference in flavour is marginal, and the eating experience is arguable better, as the royal icing can be quite hard.
Iced biscuit recipe
Are you ready to get creative (and messy)? We are sharing our favourite royal icing recipe with you! To flood-ice and hand-finish roughly 10-15 biscuits of about 8cm in size you will need:
- 50ml cold water
- 300 grams icing sugar (get the more expensive one as it will be finer and make a smoother finish)
- 10 grams of egg white powder (for example Dr Oetker, available in all larger supermarkets or online)
- Food colouring of your choice (remember you can mix most colours out of red, blue and yellow)
- Piping bags (we recommend these reusable ones) – ideally at least 3, but 6 would be better
- Piping nozzles: size 1, 2 and 3 to start with –at least one of each, but ideally the same amount of colours you intend to use
(Cheap, but not so kind to the planet are disposable piping bags. You fill them with your icing and cut the end to the size you need, but this needs a bit of practise to know how to cut it, so can be messy.)
Now depending on how much hand-finished piping your design requires, take about a third of the mix out and put it in a container with a lid. This step is important as it will dry and form a crust which will make piping a nightmare (blocked nozzles are a pain!!).
To the remaining two thirds you gradually and very gently add a little bit more water (literally a few drops at a time), and continue to mix. This will become the icing for our flood iced base. And as the name suggests, for it to flood it will need to be runnier. You are aiming for the consistency of honey here.
That’s it, your royal icing!
How to make iced biscuits
First, make your favourite biscuits. If you are more interested in the icing than the baking, get some shop-bought ones, ideally with a smooth surface, or if that proves tricky to find turn them around and ice their bottoms.
Now you will have to do some planning: If you’d like a colourful design on a white base, you will need to take some of the stiffer (tooth-pasty consistency) icing aside, then separate the rest into small containers, and add the respective food colouring. You will have at least 3 different piping bags with icing:
- Stiff icing in the same colour as the base for the outline
- Runnier icing to flood the base
- Stiffer icing in a different colour to pipe your design onto the base
You will need one piping bag per colour ideally, as washing and drying them will take lots of your time and makes it hard to go back to a colour.
To fill the piping bags, put the nozzle in the piping bags (pointy side peeping out of the hole), and fill the piping bag with icing. Fill it no more than half full to start with, otherwise it will just ooze out and spill over the top when you press too hard.
For the outline of the base, I would recommend a number 2 nozzle, to flood with the runnier icing I would say a number 3 nozzle, and for any detailed hand-piping start with a number 1 nozzle.
Before you start decorating your biscuit, have a little play and press some icing onto some kitchen roll to get a feeling for the flow.
When you are ready, go for it!
Decorating iced biscuits
Pipe the outline of your design onto your biscuit. Take a deep breath, and just brave it. The great news is this: If you are not happy with it, you can just wipe it away with some kitchen roll and start again! Nothing to lose here, only experience to gain and fun to have had!
For a straight line, start from one point and then lift the piping bag move I across, aiming for the end point, this will help make it fairly straight.
It doesn’t matter if the outline is identical to the shape of the biscuit, or if you only decorate a part of it. What matters is that there are no gaps, that the outline of icing is uninterrupted.
Now let this dry for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, you can pipe the outline of the next biscuit, or have a cuppa.
Take your piping bag with the runnier icing and number 3 nozzle, and start flooding the biscuit base by starting from the outside (close to your outline), and moving inwards, until you get to the centre. Leave a little bit of a gap between the lines of icing, they will flood into each other. If not, you can use a bit more and manipulate it with a toothpick so the whole base is covered. Now gently run a toothpick through the wet icing, so that is level. If you see any tiny bubbles appear, pop them with a toothpick.
Once you are happy with it, leave this to dry for at least an hour, longer if it is a big biscuit or if you were generous with your icing. Alternatively, you can “bake” them for 30mins at 50 degrees Celsius. Yes 50, super low.
Once the base is dry, you are ready to really get creative.
If you are now thinking that everything up until now sounds a bit too much work, here is a shortcut:
Use fondant. Yes, that’s all. For best results use a biscuit cutter, the same one you used for the actual biscuit. You can also hand cut the fondant with a knife if you are creating a bespoke design. For best results, draw the design onto some clean thick paper (350gsm or more) first, and put that on your rolled out fondant, and cut around it with a sharp knife. Leave this to dry for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
Now, back to decorating! The world is your oyster! You can either use an edible ink pen and draw the design onto your icing base first (recommended for a logo, or if you haven’t done this before). There are amazing apps out there like Fino that allow you to project any design onto your biscuit from your phone, which you can then trace. This is the secret to flawless biscuit designs that look like a copy rather than hand-drawn.
Finally, hand-decorate the biscuit using your piping bags and different colours of icing. Whether you trace the edible ink or do it by hand there is no right or wrong here. Just remember to let them dry once you are finished so that they don’t get smudged. After about an hour they are ready to be handled, packaged, or eaten!
Vegan iced biscuits
This is my favourite bit! You can make your iced biscuits vegan by replacing the egg white powder with… you guessed it? Aquafaba! Aquafaba is the brine in a tin of chickpeas. Sounds crazy, but works an absolute treat! In order for the white to stay white, add a little bit of glycerine. We use this recipe, and it works just as well as the above non-vegan version.
- 9 tbsp aquafaba
- 500 g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp vegetable glycerine, optional
Start by mixing the aquafaba until it is foamy, then add the sugar bit by bit, and finish by adding the glycerine (optional, if you use food colouring in bold colours you won’t need this).
We hope this post gave you a glimpse into the world of iced biscuits, and made it more understandable why they can be so expensive.
Happy icing, or more importantly, happy gifting (and eating!).
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