This delicious biscuits get their name from the pepper that, along with the ginger, gives them their "warming" flavour. I’ve made these as reindeer and Christmas trees, but you can make them any shape you wish. Also, have fun experimenting with the icing decoration, giving them your own creative touch.
- 150 g unsalted butter, softened
- 150 g (¾ cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 tbsp treacle
- 1 egg yolk
- 450 g (3 cups) plain flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 60 ml (¼ cup) milk
- 375 g (3 cups) pure icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 1½ hours
Standing time 20 minutes
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until just pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup, treacle and egg yolk and beat to combine.
Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add half the flour to the butter mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined. Mix in the milk and then the remaining flour until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Divide the dough into 4 portions. Shape each into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm enough to roll.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Line 3 large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out one portion of dough on a lightly floured surface until 3 mm thick.
Use a cutter/s of your choice to cut out shapes from the rolled dough and use a palette knife to carefully transfer to a lined tray, leaving a little room between each. Repeat with the remaining dough portions, rerolling any leftover dough. Place the trays of biscuits in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Bake two trays of biscuits in preheated oven for 18 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through baking, or until they start to colour around the edges and are cooked through. Cool on the trays. Bake the remaining tray of biscuits as before.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the water and mix until smooth. The icing should be a piping consistency (see Baker’s tips). If it's too thick, stir in the remaining water ½ tsp at a time until the icing reaches the correct consistency. Divide the icing between two resealable plastic bags, seal and then cut a small hole in one of the corners of each to pipe through.
Use the icing to decorate the cooled biscuits as desired. Set aside for about 20 minutes or until the icing sets before serving or storing.
• To test if the icing is the correct consistency for piping, drizzle a little on a plate and set aside for a few minutes. If it keeps its shape, it's ready.
• These biscuits are lovely iced with a lemon icing. Replace the water in the icing with strained fresh lemon juice.
• Keep these biscuits in an airtight container or jar for up to 1 week.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Traditional Christmas baking.