The following is a lightly spiced sugar cookie recipe. For a different flavour, use the same base and swap the orange and cinnamon for a flavour of your choice.
Beat butter and sugar together in stand mixer until pale and fluffy.
Add flour, egg and flavours and mix in stand mixer until dough comes together.
When it is mostly combining, use your hands to bring the dough together.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After chilling, break chunks of your dough off and squish to soften slightly.
Roll out to a thickness of about 5mm on a floured surface.
Cut out cookie shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof.
Make sure to space your cookies out in case they spread a little when baking.
Refrigerate your cut cookie dough for 20 minutes then bake at 160C fan for 15-20 minutes or until your cookies begin to brown around the edges.
Remove your cookies whilst they are still a little soft.
They will continue to cook as they cool and they will firm up.
Leave to cool completely before decorating.
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I have decorated my cookies with royal icing. You could absolutely use fondant instead if you would prefer.
Click here to see how to make royal icing in under 5 minutes, or buy a royal mix from the supermarket.
Use a piping bag and either a no. 2 or no. 2.5 nozzle to pipe an outline around your cookie.
This should ideally be a solid line, if there are any gaps, make sure they are filled with more royal icing.
To thin your royal icing, put some in a bowl and gradually add water, stirring until it’s combined.
Draw the sharp edge of a palette knife through your icing and count back from 10. It should take around 10 seconds for the line to disappear.
If it hasn’t gone after 10 seconds, add a little more water and try again.
If it has gone after 2 seconds, your icing is too thin. Add some more royal icing to thicken it up.
Use a piping bag with a no. 2.5 nozzle to fill your cookies with your run out icing.
Tap your cookies to bring any air bubbles to the surface and use either a scribe or cocktail stick to burst any bubbles and make sure the royal icing fills any voids.
Leave to set overnight.
To add a message to your winter cookies, it’s a good idea to use a template.
This can be made in Word, or just copied and resized in Word.
Trace onto some greaseproof so you don’t ruin the original, in case you need another copy.
There are 2 methods to transfer a message to your iced cookie.
One is to push a scribe through your template to make tiny holes in your icing.
This will leave a dot-to-dot for you to follow.
The second method is to score along your template with your scribe to leave an indent in your icing.
I find the second method a cleaner and clearer way to follow.
The trick to neat piping onto your winter cookies is to hold your nozzle above your cookie.
If you draw your nozzle along the surface of the cookie you will naturally wobble and the line will be broken and messy.
Lifting your nozzle will allow a neat line to fall onto your cookie.
Hold your nozzle vertically to the cookie for curves, squeeze your piping bag and move slowly to allow your icing to fall where it wants as you gently guide it.
Get rid of any sharp peaks by patting down with a damp brush.