I love vintage and retro style: Swirling your hair into forties victory rolls, slipping on a sixties shift dress, or arranging a meet with your pals on an eighties hot lips telephone.
Taking your cues from the past puts you in a different frame of mind, one where you have easy reference to historic austerities and excesses but also a personal connection to what’s come before you. Memories of your Nan’s favourite perfume, or your Mum’s cooking. Ah food, that’s what really makes me reminisce.
I remember poring over cookbooks as a child, particularly 70s and 80s editions when food was trendy but not in quite the same way as today. Pineapple it seemed, was a brand new invention, good enough to be added to starter, main and dessert. When I wasn’t reading, I was eating. For me, it was about blue raspberry Slush Puppies, Willy Wonka’s Nerds, and when I visited one particular Aunt, Iced Gems.
- 350g plain flour
- 100g self-raising flour
- 125g butter, diced
- 125g sugar
- 125 golden syrup
- 1 egg
- 1tsp vanilla extract (if you have it)
1. Sieve both types of flour together into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar.
2. Add the butter and rub together with the flour mixture to make breadcrumbs.
3. Mix in the egg and syrup. If you have vanilla extract (or any other flavouring you want to use, almond extract would be nice!) then add it here. When the mix starts to come together forming a dough, use your hands to press it into a ball.
4. Use a rolling pin and roll the mix out to about 1cm, or the thickness of a £1 coin (this doesn’t have to be spot on!) To cut out the biscuits I used an apple corer instead of pastry cutters, as this is just what I had to hand, but it turned out to be the perfect size.
5. Bake at Gas Mark 4 (180C) for about 10 minutes – keep checking on them as it’s a fine between perfectly cooked and extra crispy! Leave to cool ready for icing.
To ice, you can either make royal icing from scratch, or buy a royal icing mix like I did. Slightly different to normal icing, royal icing is made with egg whites too. My recommendation is to just a get a mix. By the time you’ve cut out all those tiny biscuits you won’t consider it cheating!
Add a drop of food colouring to the icing and pipe onto the biscuits using a star shaped nozzle. If you haven’t iced anything before, you’ll need piping bags, a nozzle and a coupler (which secures the nozzle onto the piping bag.) Or you can simply buy a tube of ready made icing that comes with nozzles.
Leave the icing to set for as long as you can bear it, before putting the kettle on and enjoying your very own retro iced gems!