This classic icing is a versatile one. Not only is is delicious on biscuits of all varieties, it can be made with a chocolate twist and coloured to suit your fancy. We like ours to be red, like Rudolph's nose, at Christmas time for these wonderful gingerbread cookies.
- 250 g icing sugar
- 1 lightly beaten medium egg white
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp 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.
Sift the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the beaten egg white and lemon juice.
Whisk on a low speed, so you do not incorporate too much air into the icing, for 2–3 minutes until you have a smooth, but not wet, stiff peak consistency. It should be dense and spreadable but hold a stiff peak. If it looks dry and crumbly add a little water. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little extra icing sugar.
You now have stiff peak icing for sticking houses together and placing decorations onto icing. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. The icing can be prepared ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
• You can adjust this icing to make soft peak and flood icing. For soft peak icing, add a drop of water at a time until you have icing that holds a soft peak but does not spread on its own. Use for piping lines, borders and decorations. To make flood icing, add a teaspoon of water at a time until you have a thick but runny icing that smoothes out on its own within 15 seconds but not so runny that it runs off the edge of your biscuit. Use for filling in outlined areas of biscuits. Each recipe will give directions on which type of icing you will need.
• If you have no piping bags make your own by twisting a tight cone out of baking parchment, or use a small plastic food bag and cut one corner off.
• If you do not have piping nozzles you can just cut the end of the piping bag off. Note that a nozzle will give you better results as you have more control.
• Only half fill the piping bag with icing so it does not ooze out of the top when you squeeze.
• To make chocolate icing, substitute 60 g of cocoa powder in place of an equal amount of icing sugar.
Recipe from Gingerbread Wonderland (Kyle Books, $19.99), by Mimi Sinclair, with photography by Tara Fisher.