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26th April 2013
Anniversary Shield Shortbread

On The Sudden Stop, there is a strange tradition of baking something with a theme during an event. At Christmas I made some Alan Wake gingerbread men and a gingerbread house in the shape of Bird Leg Cabin...So I tend to be quite geeky about what I make...And this time is no exception. The cooking articles on the site tends to be liked because it’s quite easy for things to go wrong and frankly when I started this website I wasn’t a great cook. The last few have been the exception, and especially this one actually turned out surprisingly well!

A few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to bring back a cooking article for our POTF celebration so I began coming up with several ideas. One of which I might do later this year inspired by some steampunk cupcakes I saw. But the cooking project I wanted to do the most was to take the design of the 10th anniversary badge and turn it into a cookie...What? Don't look at me like that. You were thinking the same thing!

So yes, a little while ago I baked shield-shaped anniversary shortbread, and this is how it went.

Luckily for me, Poets recently uploaded a clear image of the badge as part of their Pledge Music campaign, which helped so much with the design of the cookies. I first drew plan of what the shortbread might look like if I tried to convert it into a cookie-friendly design. My only concern at this point was the inevitable expansion as it's cooking which might distort the image, but I wanted to take a risk. 

One I had the design down, I needed to make a paper template. This paper template would later be transferred onto non-stick baking paper which would allow me to cut the dough in the correct shape. If the dough had been too soft, I would be stuck with having the primary base and cut the rest of the designs out of marzipan or a similar forgiving item.

I managed to get a good looking recipe which not only seemed pretty easy to do but also contained a lot of items that you probably might have at home, so no need to run out to the shops to buy additional ingredients.

   - 3 Cups of Flour
   - 1 Teaspoon of Salt (Level)
   - 225g of Butter (Unsalted)
   - 1 Cup of Sugar
   - 1 Large Egg
   - 1/4 Teaspoon of Almond Extract
   - 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

   - Blue Icing (or Milk Chocolate Icing)
   - Yellow Icing (or White Chocolate Icing)
   - Golden Edible Baubles

You will also need several bowls, teaspoons, tablespoons, some baking paper, a cup, scales, an oven tray, preferably an oven, and a lot of patience.

And compulsory group photo....

Right! So we're ready to do some baking! Combine three cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl and then stand back as you contemplate the strangeness of that combination. Also you should probably hope the police doesn't randomly turn up your house to see you covered in white powder - it's not what it looks like!

Next up measure out 225g of unsalted butter, and cut into smaller pieces to allow it to heat up quicker. Place it in the microwave for roughly 20 seconds. Ideally your butter should still be solid but soft. Once it's soft, add the butter to the mixture. Here's a photo of some butter...

...Dat butter.

You can either begin to stir now or later, but I found it easier to begin to mix everything together before adding the sugar.

When ready, measure out and put one cup of sugar into the mixing bowl and begin to stir everything together. As you can tell from the photo below, bits are going to escape out of the bowl as you're mixing....It makes stirring a lot easier!
(Disclaimer: That is a terrible idea)
The recipe points out that the mixture should be "flaky" and "crumbly" when it's been properly stirred together.

Mix in a large egg, as well as a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This recipe does require quite a lot of strenuous mixing, but after this you have a little break in which to recover and prepare yourself for the pain ahead. At this point, your mixture would be slightly less crumbly and flaky and resemble actual dough!

Divide the mixture into two parts and spread them each out on a different plate, before covering it in cling film and putting it in the fridge for an hour.

Then make yourself some coffee, because you're getting there. coffee cup has spaceships on it! Like bowties, spaceships are cool.

An hour later return to the dough and leave it out to warm up a little. I found it extremely difficult to work with it straight out from the fridge. 

While you're waiting you can use the paper template to cut out the design on non-stick baking paper. This will allow you to place it on the dough, cut around it, and get the exact measurements needed for the cookie. Plus it's something to do while the dough warms up...I also watched Eddie Izzard.

When the dough has warmed up a little, dust a little flour over your workplace to avoid it from sticking, and use a rolling pin to smooth out the dough to approximately 0.5mm.

Once smooth and even, place down the templates your made onto the dough and use a knife to cut the shape out. Ideally it should be a sharp knife to avoid the shape from becoming distorted; the mixture is a little sticky.

Once you've cut out all the pieces for a shield, put some baking paper on an oven tray and assemble it. Fingers crossed it goes to plan! And hopefully it should look something like this...

I started cutting up and assembling the shields at 2:20am and finished the first batch around 3:45, so it's not exactly a simple activity but it is rewarding. Preheat the oven to 350f (or 175c) while you're finishing off the first batch, and if you have time and space, start the second on a different tray. Also the second batch is much quicker, especially as you've already practised your cutting and assembling skills.

Here they are about to go into the oven....

Anything left over, make circles with them. You can either make some cool Carnival of Rust inspired design out of them, or eat them straight after cooking...Which is what I did.

Each batch should have taken approximately 15 minutes to cook, but I found it was around 20-30 minutes mark. Fortunately they did come out pretty well, so their poor punctuality is forgiven.

Leave them on the side to cool. It's soon time for decorations. Now those who have seen the other articles would know that the decorating stage is one of my favourite stages, but it's also where things tend to go horribly wrong....My Bird Leg Cabin collapsed...I like to think it was due to it's awesomeness and not the wrong icing.

I wanted to make it as close to the shield as possible so I used blue and yellow icing. If you don't want to have icing on your shortbread you can use chocolate instead. But I found the coloured icing to be rather nice on it.

After beginning to write the band's name on the cookies, I quickly gave up. The nozzle was far too big and the writing far too small for that. Instead I decided to make a simplistic design and instead use lines to represent phrases. It's much quicker too!

After decorating the shortbread with blue icing, I moved to the yellow and used a wider nozzle. At the store, I bought the Silver Spoon icing which comes with three different types of nozzles, if you don't bake that often or your want to make your life a little simpler, it's best to get that pack (or similar) which has everything you need to start icing straight away. With the yellow icing, I used it at the bottom as a border to give it a nice frame.

Once completed, I used the blue icing again to put six little dots around the "10", so I could add the edible golden baubles....Trust me, everything is better with edible golden baubles.

 And once complete, it should look something like this!


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