I love baking gingerbread cookies for Easter every year. I’ve got a great recipe that makes a mild child-friendly gingerbread dough (not too heavy on the spices), and my four-year-old loves decorating and cutting out all of the bunnies, eggs and chicken shapes.
This year, Lisa and I had a play with the Easter cookie kit from Blank Goods, which takes personalised cookies to a whole new level. This handy little kit contains a set of egg cookie cutters, alphabet letters and numbers to emboss the cookies with messages and names, as well as a set of edible food decorating pens. (School holiday tip: let the kids loose on some plain fondant cookies with a set of the edible pens!)
We are inspired by the watercolour trend at the moment, so we decorated our cookies with visible brush strokes and a wash of pastel to create a pretty watercolour effect.
If you want to try this look yourself, you need a nice smooth surface of royal icing. I cheated and used a packet of ready-made royal icing, which made the whole process faster.
Knead the icing and roll it out to a thickness of about 3mm-5mm. I rolled the fondant between two sheets of baking paper which helped to make a super-smooth surface – and it doesn’t stick, either.
Cut out the egg shapes in the fondant, and attach them to the top of your cooled cookies by brushing on a little boiled apricot jam.
Now the cookies are ready to decorate. Here’s how to create Lisa’s gorgeous watercolour cookie effect.
1. Use a natural or artificial food colours and mix them with water in a paint palette. Using a clean paintbrush with flat, wide bristles, practice brush strokes and experiment with colours on a spare piece of fondant, before painting the cookies themselves.
2. Using a colour palette of peach, pink, apple green and jade green, apply haphazard brushstrokes in a kind of patchwork pattern. You could also try a single round swirl around the cookie. Lisa used simple bold brush strokes for a wash of watercolour stripes on her cookies.
3. Using a clean piece of slightly damp paper towel, carefully blot the surface of the cookie, and gently rub the colour in the direction of the brush strokes to soften the watercolour effect. You can always go back and add more colour if necessary, and the layering creates a lovely effect.
Here’s the recipe I use for gingerbread cookies:
1/2 cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2.5 cups (375g) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup (125 ml) golden syrup
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Beat butter, sugar and yolk in a small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Stir in sifted dry ingredients and golden syrup; mix to a soft dough. Knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick.
Cut gingerbread shapes from dough. Sprinkle more flour if it’s sticky, and flour your cutters and rolling pin if necessary. If dough is too crumbly and difficult to work with, bundle it up in some cling wrap and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours (or leave it to rest in the fridge overnight). It will be much easier to work with when it’s firmed up a little.
Place gingerbread shapes about 3cm apart on paper baking (you may need to carefully transfer them with a spatula to retain the shape). Bake in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on trays.
Now your cookies are ready to decorate with royal icing and watercolour!
By Rebecca Lowrey Boyd/Wee Birdy for We Are Scout.
All photography and styling by Lisa Tilse, for We Are Scout.