Send the scent of Christmas wafting through your home, and get a trayful of beautiful decorations to boot! Try making some homemade biscuits to hang on the Christmas tree this year.
An Old Tradition
Baking decorated biscuits for Christmas is an old tradition that dates back centuries. From the German spiced biscuits, Lebkuchen, to English gingerbread (which has its roots in Shropshire) and Italian Panforte – rich, spicy, beautifully decorated biscuits and slices, have a place in almost every home in Europe. In Britain, we have welcomed the tradition of baking biscuits to hang from ribbon on our Christmas trees.
How To Make Christmas Tree Biscuits
This is an easy biscuit recipe, with plenty of fragrant spices, that should last for a while on the tree without going soft. However, we would recommend keeping some in an airtight tin for the family to enjoy warm and crunchy! This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s biscuits in ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’. We like the combination of cinnamon and ginger, but you could use ½ tsp lightly crushed cardamom seeds and 1tsp orange zest – a really beautiful Swedish-style variation.
- 100g (4oz) salted butter
- 100g (4oz) soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4tsp honey
- 1tsp baking powder
- 300g (11oz) plain flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp ground ginger
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until soft and whippy. Beat together the eggs and honey, and beat them into the butter. Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. Stir to bring the mixture together into a dough. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for 30 minutes to make it easier to work with. Now roll out quite thinly and cut into Christmassy shapes. Finally, using a knitting needle or skewer, make a hole at the top of each biscuit for threading through ribbon. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until firm, temperature 170ºC.
Topping Your Biscuits
You have a number of options for topping your biscuits. You could do a German-inspired Lebkuchen topping by placing almond halves in a neat circle on your biscuits (before baking). Press them on lightly and brush with a little beaten egg. This gives an elegant result that would be perfect for giving away.
Another sophisticated option is a crunchy, golden sprinkle of demerara sugar. To make it festive, sprinkle a little Edible Gold Lustre (Squires) in a small bowl, and toss in a couple of tablespoons of Demerara sugar. Mix gently until the sugar has a golden sheen, then sprinkle it lightly over the surface of your unbaked biscuits. They’ll come out with a very beautiful golden topping.
If the Kids Want to Help Decorate, wait until the biscuits are cooked and cooled. Then make up a bowl of icing, only just thin enough to spread (it’s easy to make it too thin, so veer on the thick side), wrap the kids in aprons, and get out the sprinkles! Once the biscuits have dried, they’re ready to be threaded with pretty ribbon and tied onto the Christmas tree. If you can all keep you hands off them for that long!