This month Nicky Sherwood visited the new Biscuiteers School of Icing in Notting Hill and learnt how to ice a collection of Vintage Birthday Party biscuits in a two hour icing masterclass.
Biscuiteers’ amazing hand-iced biscuits are more than simply tea time treats, they’re mini works of art in their own right.
Presented in beautifully illustrated gift tins, these tiny temptations are created in their London bakery and hand-decorated by a team of expert icers before being carefully packaged up and sent off to delighted receipients around the globe.
Recently the company opened a Biscuit Boutique and Icing Cafe in London’s Notting Hill, a little slice of biscuit heaven where you can also learn the intricate art of biscuit icing in the Icing School below the shop.
So it was here that I found myself headed on a chilly February morning for a two hour icing class where I would be learning to recreate their popular Vintage Birthday Party biscuit collection.
On arrival at the Biscuit Boutique I discovered a world of baked loveliness, with biscuit collections for every imaginable occasion as well as iced celebration cakes and hand-iced chocolates, all presented in delightful gift tins.
The boutique is also home to some pretty impressive biscuit sculpture such as the replica Buckingham Palace in the window, complete with guards and topiary.
Being a complete icing novice, the question I found myself wondering was whether all of this iced inspiration would rub off on me and enable to create my own mini masterpieces. Would it be a piece of cake… or leave me sobbing over a pile of broken biscuits? Only time would tell.
Heading downstairs to the Icing School, I joined the other would-be ice queens around a table where we enjoyed a warming mug of hot chocolate from the cafe before getting down to work.
Our tutor and resident icing expert Lorena began by explaining the techniques that we would be using; how to hold the piping bag and apply the right amount of pressure to maintain control.
It takes a bit of time to master the grip so we first practiced icing straight lines and swirls onto baking paper before being let loose on the tray of biscuit blanks laid out before us.
Then it was time to take the plunge and attempt to ice a border around the edge of our biscuits. First up was a party balloon swiftly followed by a slice of battenburg cake, both requiring a very steady hand.
At first it was breath-holdingly tricky as I tried to lay a long line of icing down onto the biscuit in one fluid movement while keeping the pressure constant on the icing bag. Stopping and starting wasn’t a option – you just had to go for it – so confidence was key!
After a bit of practice I got the hang of it and once the iced borders were dry Lorena showed us the next icing technique. This time we used a more liquid form of icing to ‘flood’ the enclosed spaces we had created, taking care not to let the icing flow over the edges.
With the liquid icing we were able to layer and blend the colours to create patterns such as the spots on the balloon and the swirls on the ice cream sundae, the icing magically leveling itself to create a smooth glossy finish.
Once all of the biscuits had been flooded they were placed in the oven for 40 minutes to allow the icing to harden, while Lorena showed us how to make the liquid icing from scratch using the recipe in the Biscuiteers cook book.
When the biscuits came out of the oven and had cooled, we sat down to do the final round of icing using the piping bags once again.
Now feeling a lot more confident, we added definition to our designs and some finishing touches such as decorations on the cakes and the cherry on the sundae.
Before long our biscuits were finished and Lorena presented us each with a pretty Biscuiteers tin into which we layered our iced creations safely between sheets of glossy brown paper.
Next we were handed some rather fabulous goody bags, each containing a ‘Certificate of Brilliance’ and a copy of the Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits, into which we placed our treasured tins.
Back home I took a peep inside my box of delights and viewed the finished product. Not bad for a complete beginner who two hours previously had been shakily trying to grasp the piping bag correctly.
The finished results say it all and that is the beauty of this Biscuiteers biscuit icing class. You arrive at the shop as a complete novice and leave a short while later having learnt skills that you will use for many years to come.
Lorena was an excellent tutor, inspiring confidence and making it fun and relaxed while keeping us all on track to ensure that we each came out with a completed biscuit collection.
This class would make an ideal gift for crafty or foodie types, and would be wonderful to enjoy with a friend. But if you can’t make it to London, don’t worry as the recipes and techniques are also set out in the Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits which you can always buy and have a go at home. Happy icing!
Here’s a cute little film showing a glimpse behind the scenes at the Biscuiteers Icing School:
For details of upcoming classes at the Biscuiteers Icing Cafe visit www.biscuiteers.com/school.
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