Iced Fish Cookies

This is my first attempt at iced cookies, I have wanted to try them for a while, there are so many beautiful examples online and in magazines. They have always seemed time-consuming though, so I thought I’d wait for a rainy few days for the excuse to have a go. These are for my god-daughter sixth birthday party, she is having a seaside theme to the cakes for the party so I figured fish biscuits would be a good addition. We have been staying at her house for the past few weeks and I found an angel fish cookie cutter in a bag of shapes and the ideas flourished!

The biscuit recipe comes from my rather well-thumbed, annotated and splodged hardbacked copy of How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by the glorious Nigella Lawson. Always good to reference when I’m not sure where to start. The icing I can credit to the wonderful The Joy Of Baking, as I had no idea what I was doing!

I just stuck to two colours when decorating the cookies, it was my first time! I didn’t want to complicate things too much. I tried a few designs using the ‘bleeding’ method {I felt this was more fish-like than having a crisp edge between the two colours}, this was definitely the fun, creative part of the process. I was right about the time-consuming element however, I lost a good few hours in all, enjoyably lost them though! I’m pleased with the result, and definitely ready to try a more challenging cookie design next time.

All those teeth-achingly sugar covered fishes were inspired by the incredible real ones swimming among the coral on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. This is surely one of the worlds most fantastic lesser known wonders. The coral stretches for about 250kms along the edge of the North West Cape, hugging the coast. It is so close to the land that you can easily reach it from the beach.

We camped there for a couple of nights a few years ago and ended up staying well over a week, we loved it so much. Our campsite was right on a beach in a little cove, you could walk out onto some rocks, look down into the coral and see Parrot fish and Clown fish, it was just brilliant. We picked up a couple of snorkels in Exmouth and paddled out to the reef every day, we swam with turtles, startled a few rays, it was great fun and so accessible. No boat, no scuba gear, easy.

oven 180 C / gas 4

a couple of baking sheets, greased or lined with baking parchment

  • 175 g soft unsalted butter
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar until pale then beat in each egg with a tablespoon of the flour, followed by stirring in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and use a wooden spoon to stir this into a dough. Be gentle, the flour will slowly come together and you will end up with a lovely soft dough. Add a bit more flour if it feels a little wet. Split the dough in half, form into a disc and wrap each in clingfilm or pop into a small polythene bag and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Roll one of the  chilled discs out on a lightly dusted surface. Dust the rolling-pin and roll out to about half a centimetre. Cut out your shapes and place on the baking sheets leaving a little bit of room between each cookie. The dough can successfully be re-kneaded and re-rolled a few times to get it all used up. I found half the dough was enough to fill two baking sheets. So I cooked them in two batches.

Bake for 10 mins or so, until they are just starting to colour. Leave on the baking sheets for a minute or so after removing from the oven then transfer onto cooling racks to cool completely.

For the icing, follow this link: http://www.joyofbaking.com/RoyalIcing.html . I made up a thick, small batch of each colour, using Wiltons orange and pale blue food colouring paste, and used this to pipe an edge round each cookie.

The trick is to not have the icing to thick, it needs to flow smoothly to get a neat line. Too thin though and it will run off your cookie. I let this set for a few hours, then stored them in a sealed container overnight.

The icing was covered in clingfilm to prevent a crust forming.

The next day I thinned down the icing with a bit to water to give it a runnier consistency and used a teaspoon to ‘flood’ the cookies, spreading the icing into the corners with a cocktail stick.

I put some of the alternate colour into a piping tube, with a fine nozzle, and piped the stripes onto the wet, flooded icing. This created a soft edge as the stripes sank into the icing.

As I got more creative, I filled the fins and tail with one colour then flooded the middle with another, adding a few stripes to this area.

I let these dry, they took quite a few of hours. I had bought a tube of black gel to mark the eyes, not realising it doesn’t set, so I couldn’t stack the first batch! I melted some dark chocolate to ice the rest of the eyes.

I hope I’ve inspired you to have a go at this, now what shape to try next?

1 Response

  1. These are so incredibly cute!

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