Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Recipe: Vintage brooch biscuits

Vintage brooch biscuits, as made by EJ
Living in Brighton I used to love meandering around the many flea markets, admiring (and too often buying) vintage brooches and buttons. These sugar cookies are inspired by vintage brooches and despite their appearance are very easy to decorate, all you need is a little patience and the ingredients below!

I've used a sugar cookie recipe for these brooches (detailed below) and decorated them with ready to roll icing, which I shaped using plunger cutters (as well as super high-tech equipment such as a cocktail stick). The icing is coloured using edible lustre dust and shimmer spray (edible spray paint!). Thanks to everyone loving home baking these days, these items are all readily available from most big supermarkets, although if you plan ahead you can usually pick up a much better deal on the interweb. I used tiny plunger cutters to cut some of the icing shapes - these can be terribly expensive in cook shops, so I'd recommend you look online for a better deal (try Amazon).

I've included a few photos to help with assembly and techniques.

But first of all, you need to make those sugar cookies! The un-iced biscuits can be made in large batches and frozen in a well sealed container for up to 4 weeks before use, they are an excellent base for all kinds of decoration. The secret to making perfect sugar cookies is to chill the cookies for an hour before baking, this way they will keep their shape as they bake (so you can make the most of jazzy cookie cutters!).

This recipe makes approximately 30 sugar round biscuits (5cm diameter)

To make the sugar cookies you will need:
100g butter (softened)
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbs milk
275g plain flour

For the icing & decorating you will need:
Ready to roll white icing
Edible lustre dust (in the colours of your choice)
Gold shimmer spray (or silver, or bronze)
A 5cm round cookie cutter
Cocktail sticks
Edible glue (you can buy this from good bake shops)
Cornflour (to dust the surface you're working on)
A food safe fine paint brush
A rolling pin and board to work on
Tiny plunger cutters in a variety of shapes - I used hearts and flowers (or a sharp knife if you want to freestyle your shapes) 
Kitchen paper is also advisable

To make the cookies:
Line a baking tray with greaseproof baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together.

In a separate bowl, whisk up the egg a little - add the vanilla extract and milk.

Gradually add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar, mixing well to combine.

Sift in the flour and mix into a dough. Turn out onto a clean floured surface and roll out to be approximately 5mm thick. Cut circles out using a 5mm round cookie cutter. Place these on the baking tray and chill for 1 hour.

While the cookies are chilling you can begin to prepare the icing (see below).

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 190C (fan). When the cookies have chilled for an hour, bake them for approximately 12 minutes. They should still be pale in appearance when cooked, you can check if they are done by carefully inspecting the underside of one of the cookies - it should be an even colour the biscuit should definitely hold its shape.

When the cookies are done, place them on a wire rack to cool.

To decorate:

Preparing your colours:
Ready to roll icing can be a fairly hard texture to start with, pull off a small chunk and work it in your hands until it softens (the warmer your hands are, the quicker this is), add approximately half a teaspoon of the edible lustre dust of the colour you want to work with and knead it into the icing until the colour takes evenly. Prepare all of your colours like this. I'd recommend that you use edible lustre dust with a pearlescent or shimmery tone, to give a jewel-like finish to the shapes you cut.

Preparing your bases:
Lightly dust the board you are working on with cornflour (always use cornflour as using icing sugar will make the icing stick) and roll out some plain white icing until it's approximately 2-3mm thick. Use the 5cm round cutter, to cut as many brooch shapes as you need and set these to one side.

To add a raised edge to the brooch bases, take a small handful of the ready to roll icing and using your hands against the board, roll it into a string approximately 3mm thick and 140mm in length.

Using a food safe fine-tipped paint brush, paint a thin layer of edible glue around the circumference of the base disc, carefully glue the icing string down into position, trim away any excess icing. Leave to dry for a few minutes.

You can add texture to the raised edge by gently pressing a cocktail stick across the edge:

Once you've prepared as many bases as you need, lay out a double layer of kitchen paper and arrange them on top of it, hold the can of shimmer spray approximately 20cm above the icing discs and spray them until they are an even gold colour. Leave these to dry for at least 30 minutes before decorating.

While the bases are drying, cut out the shapes you'll be using to decorate them and get to work on layout ideas. I used a tiny heart shaped plunger cutter, but you could easily cut uniform diamond shapes with a sharp knife. 

I also created tiny pearls to use alongside the jade hearts - these couldn't be easier to make and don't require any tools, just pinch off a tiny piece of the icing and roll into a ball. You can't really tell from these photos, but I coloured this icing with an ivory pearlescent lustre dust.

When you've worked out where the pearls and gems will sit on the brooch, carefully dot a little of the edible glue onto the brooch base in the relevant area. Avoid dragging the brush, as the glue could displace the shimmer spray colour.

Carefully position the shape on top of the glue.

Repeat the same process around the circumference of the raised edge using the tiny jade hearts and pearls.

Try creating different borders for the brooches using multiples of tiny shapes or pearls.

If making your own icing shapes is too time consuming, or if you're making these with children, you could always prepare the bases and use ready made cake decorations to add detail to the brooches - such as sugar pearls and edible glitter.

Leave the finished brooches out to dry for a while- the icing will set hard and will become less fragile to handle. Use a little of the edible glue to stick each brooch on top of a sugar cookie - and they're ready to enjoy :)


  1. What an amazing idea! These are beautiful!

  2. I actually love the closing pic more as one does not realise that the base is gold! I thought they were the plain cookie colour. These look so elegant and lovely. Wouldnt wanna bite in to them!


    1. Thanks Shobha, I'm pleased you like the tutorial! They do look too good to eat... but we ate them anyway :)