I love biscuits, to the point that I have to hid them or I'll happily munch my way through a whole packet!
Last weekend I went with some friends and family to The Cake and Bake Show at Earls Court, in London. While there I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of thee nicest biscuits I've ever had from the lovely Cinnamon Tree Bakery, along with a serious amount of taste tests!
I also had the excitement of meeting bakers from this and previous series' of GBBO. I'm not even a bit ashamed to say I went slightly fan-girl.
But anyway, this week I decided to go for the Show Stopper (though I have just realised I didn't adhere the criteria of it being 30cm tall. Paul and Mary would not be happy. Whoops!)
Firstly, to make this castle you have to do a reasonable amount of baking and in multiple batches, so it is not only worth planning ahead but also planning the size of your castle.
In my bake each turret is 12 biscuits high and the circular cookie cutter used was 6cm in diameter.
The castle sides were 9cm x 9cm, the arrow loops 3cm x 1cm and the drawbridge 3cm x 2cm.
Naturally this can be adapted to suit your own wants/needs.
Chocolate and Earl Grey Biscuit Dough
175g softened butter
1 earl grey tea bag
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
100g golden caster sugar
225g plain flour
Lavender and Lemon Biscuit Dough
260g softened butter
2 tablespoons of dried lavender (I got mine from The Jersey Lavender Farm)
Zest of 2 lemons
150g golden caster sugar
340g plain flour
A small amount of royal icing is also needed for construction.
Get out 2 large mixing bowls. Add 175g of butter to one, then add the tea leaves from the teabag and the cocoa powder. Beat together until the flavourings are incorporated into the butter. Repeat with the 260g of butter in the other mixing bowl, adding the dried lavender and lemon zest and beat.
Then add the sugar to both bowls and beat again.
Then finally stir in the flour to both bowls. Bring the 2 lots of dough together with your hands in each separate bowl. Give them both a bit of a knead, as they need to be strong enough to support themselves in a structure.
Then wrap both doughs in cling film and put them in the fridge to firm for at least 15 minutes. While you are waiting pre-heat the oven to 160C/320F.
Now for the baking and construction (see picture below);
1 - Once chilled roll out the choc and tea dough and cut out 24 biscuits (you should have a little leftover). Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. While the choc biscuits are in the oven cut out the 24 lavender and lemon biscuits. Once cooked remove the choc biscuits from the oven, put in the lavender biscuits and then cut out the castle sides and add-ons. Apart from measuring to ensure the sides were 9cm x 9cm, I cut the battlements, window and front gate out freehand with a sharp knife. (Fyi - If you want to be crazy anal about it, each castle side was 130g of dough). Finally with the remaining chocolate dough cut out the arrow loops and the drawbridge. Bake everything!
2 - Once everything is cooled, use a bit of royal icing to stick the arrow loops to the sides of the castle. Put in the fridge to set while you do the next step.
3 - Stack the circular biscuits on top of each other in the four corners of your presentation board to form the turrets. You can add a dollop of royal icing between each biscuit layer if you want to be certain there is no movement.
4 - Then take each castle side and wedge them in position with a little bit of royal icing acting as glue.
5 & 6 - As an optional step, I had a ginger and walnut cake lying around (as you do) and so I broke it up into crumb size pieces and sprinkled it inside the castle courtyard and around the outside. (This also helps disguise any rough edges, so for instance if you accidentally drop one of the castle sides no one will ever know....)
So far in my GBBO bake along this has been by far the most fun I've had baking (and constructing).
It would be great for a (big) kid's birthday party. You could also get them involved in the baking as well. The biscuit flavourings can be changed and switched around again and again. Though I do recommend the earl grey and chocolate biscuit, my new favourite.
Hopefully someone will give this a go!