In loving memory of a dear friend, taken all too very soon. Here’s to all the good, happy memories Pam, the incredible biccie lady. You are sorely missed xxx
Pamela Giles 29th May 1972 to 23rd August 2014.
Ooo I’m so thrilled to be writing this post! It’s almost too much excitement, I’m having to restrain myself from just posting a pile of “ooo’s” and happy faces with the following photos! You see, last week, one of my friends had her very own cook book published!!!
Pam is a lovely lass I came to know a fair few years back now via the old Nigella.com forum. There she went by the avatar and screen name of “Eric The Cat”. Nowadays I have her details saved as “Pam the biccie lady”! :D. She has done something extraordinary and turned a hobby into a small home business then even produced the book we see above.
It’s just so wonderful I can barely put it into words! It’s a fabulous, well illustrated, well written and very well laid out how to make and decorate your own cookies at home. Something I’ve shied away from (until now) as its out of my comfort zone to do so much fine detail, labour intensive work to produce a baked good. But that didn’t stop me from picking up these adorable gingerbread men cookie cutters and pop them away until I felt able to rise to the challenge. Today was that day people!
Whilst not only being a delightfully comprehensive beginners guide to cookie making, something I didn’t expect was just how personal Pam’s book is. She mentions a number of our mutual foodie friends as sources of inspiration, help with not only creating the book but also one friend in particular is credited with a recipe.
And that would be the lovely Riikka – a committed Finnish foodie friend (of the healthy fraternity – and very inspiring she is too!) who gave Pam her original gingerbread recipe. Lucian Piparkakut or Saint Lucy’s Gingerbread. And given that I had the cutters, Riikka had sent me the optional extra dried mandarin powder or pomerans last Christmas and finally, my copy of Brilliant Biscuits had arrived I no longer had an excuse to not cookie it up! Feel the fear and live it anyway people! :D
I’m so delighted Pam’s instructions were so clear. They answered the questions I wanted answered – whether to flour and roll out or use cling film, whether to chill or not chill the dough and when to chill it. Perfecto! For a cookie novice like moi!
Look how sharp those edges are! That’s two periods of fridge chilling that is ;). Even after baking they did not spread one ickle bit. A great tip from Pam is to transfer the just baked cookies onto a rack to cool by picking up the baking paper or in my case bake-o-glide reusable parchment. No more broken biccies!
Now comes the fun bit! Mixing up your royal icing colours then piping whatever design you can dream of. Perhaps I should point out that Pam’s book doesn’t have the design for these cookies in in particular (but there is a chapter on gingerbread brides and grooms aw!). That is deliberate, as is the fact I won’t be including the recipe on my blog – I want you all to go out and buy a copy of Brilliant Biccies cos it’s amazing! One last omission is whilst I already have a big selection of food colours and glitters, I didn’t actually make my own icing – I used the “just add water stuff”. You do as makes you feel comfortable!
The most important thing about the decorating phase of this baking project is getting your icing consistency right. We are directed to have our line icing hold a ribbon only 5-6 seconds in Brilliant Biscuits. Like so. It makes a massive difference to not have icing as stuff as cement nor as runny as water – it makes an apparently insurmountable task a far more achievable task. I’ve never managed it before so have only attempted decorated biccies twice before. And they were not good!
So yes, there is work to be done on my skills, ’tis true but this was immensely satisfying to do. For some reaso, the boy biccies were easier to decorate than the girl biccies for me but I’m sure my spatial awareness can only improve the more bics I bake! :D
For those Disney Pixar fans amongst you, my inspiration for the gingerbread boys was the Gingerbread Man from Shrek! If your heart doesn’t melt when he gets doused in hot milk, then I’m not sure we can be friends ;)
Ooo this project really brought out my not-so-inner child I can tell you! It was just so much fun I couldn’t help but give each biccie a personality of its own!
So there we have it – a selection of gingerbread. I did make a bunch of mini ones too but didn’t decorate them, instead leaving them plain and popping in a biccie tin to be dunked into future warming cups of tea as winter approaches. Did you know these bics can last pot 3 months? Lol, ok, maybe these little guys won’t but it won’t be because of a defective recipe I can tell you – they are utterly delicious! Think ginger snap, ginger thin biscuits. Absolutely delicious ones.
So, if like me your inner child goes super sonic “oooooo” over a fantastical design, primary colours and lots of edible glitter then this is the book for you! Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a copy. Or maybe even buy an extra one or two as Christmas presents ;). I can’t recommend the incredible Pam’s book highly enough and even though I’m biased as she’s my foodie friend, I hope she knows how extraordinarily talented she is and what a phenomenal achievement publishing her own baking book is. Congratulations Pam – it’s an absolute triumph.
Get your own copy –> here! :D