And who is Robert Adam? I hear you ask. You’ve heard about my architecture degree, probably more than you’d like to on a baking blog, well I made these cookies for my turn in our weekly studio baking challenge thing. Every week, someone else makes a cake or other baked goods. At the beginning of the year the tutors challenged us to make them related to our studio topic, which is Classicism. We’ve had a couple of column inspired cakes and some other just plain old good cakes. For my project, I’ve been taking inspiration from Robert Adam’s interiors. Again, who is this guy?! He’s a Scottish neoclassical architect from the 1700’s who designed a lot of classical buildings and interiors. Put simply, I like his style.
These rooms are pretty grand, a bit over the top, very Robert Adam. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be designing rooms that actually look like this, it’s just a good source of inspiration for our site in Edinburgh. In reality, I think it might look a bit more like this.
“I thought you said you were an architecture student not an interior designer?!” Yeh we’re coming on to the rest of the building, we just started out with the inside. Anyway, this does all come back to cake I promise you. I wanted to make these cookies which are tried and tested absolutely awesome and slightly christmassy and I thought I’d push my cookie decorating skills and make them look like one of these interiors….. Here’s what I ended up with! Super simple cookies with royal icing in pastel blue and white “plaster”, went down a treat with the rest of my architecty chums. They’d be great as a present and you can be really personal with your decorating. Even if you have no interest in architecture, I think they still look pretty classy!
For the cookies, called Jumble Bumbles from the book “Cookies” by M&S. Makes about 25-30 125g butter or Trex 110g caster sugar 1 egg 60ml golden syrup 375g plain flour ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 ½ tsp cream of tartar 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp mixed spice ½ tsp ground clove (optional) For the icing, easily makes enough to ice all the cookies 60g egg whites 330g icing sugar 2 tsp lemon juice blue food colour, ideally “navy” paste colour from Sugarflair.
Beat the butter, sugar and egg in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer) until combined. Stir in the syrup and dry ingredients in two batches.
Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Be careful there are no creases in the bottom layer of baking paper, keep turning it over.
Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 150°C or 130°C for a fan oven.
Grease and line baking trays with baking paper. Use a large circular cookie cutter to cut out as many cookies as possible. It doesn’t matter what size you use, however big you want your cookies!
Place on the baking trays a few centimeters apart and bake for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them, when they are going golden at the edges they are ready to come out. Unless you like a crunchy cookie, then you can leave them in there a little longer until they are golden brown.
To make the icing. Beat the egg whites and lemon juice in the mixer until they are light and frothy. Add the sifted icing sugar a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar is added you should have a glossy icing forming stiff peaks. This is royal icing.
Divide the icing into ¾ and ¼. Set the small portion aside and cover it with cling film in contact with the surface. Dye the larger portion blue. Start with a small blob of blue colour and gradually add more to bring it to the desired colour. You can keep checking it against the white to see how they will look next to eachother.
Thin down the blue icing to make “15 second icing”. Add drops of water and stir them in. To test the consistency, draw a knife through the icing and time how long it takes for the surface to return to smooth. Once this time is 15 seconds you have the right consistency for both the outline and the flood icing.
Using a piping bag and a no.2 nozzle, or cut a very small hole in the end of the bag, pipe a circle a little inside the edge of the cookie and immediately flood it with icing. You want it to be quite full as the icing shrinks as it dries so you don’t want it dipping in the middle. Leave the cookies overnight to dry out.
Once completely dry, you can pipe the white details on top. I thinned a little of my icing down to about 30 second icing for the circle, as I wanted it to hold its shape. The rest of it I made 15 second icing for the shape outline and flood. I used a no.2 nozzle again but I would have liked to use a no.1 if I had one! Again, you can just cut a tiny hole in the end of the piping bag if you don’t have nozzles. Pipe the outline of the shapes and the fill them in just the same as before. I did holly leaves, christmas trees and bows. Have fun!