Ever since Michael J Fox appeared diminutively on our screens in Back to the Future, I’ve been dubious about that whole time travel thing.
For example, imagine being transported back to Victorian times and then they discover you’re wearing a thong. That’s not going to end well is it?
Ms Pankhurst would be horrified that you are wearing a tool of male oppression* and you might make her do something drastic. Like not chain herself to railings and win us the vote. You see? Time travel is dangerous; it messes with the mind and has potentially catastrophic consequences.
*Note: anyone querying this description of a thong is either a) male, b) pert, toned and under 25, c) or has never tried wearing cheese wire between their buns.
Yet, despite my misgivings, we recently gave time travel a go.
A bit of background for you:
Husband and I met in a small town in north-eastern France many moons ago. It was a time of decadent, possibly illegal behaviour and many a regretful hangover. But it was lots of fun and like Humphrey and Ingrid ‘We’ll always have
So what on earth were we thinking going back there 15 years later with our 4 kids? Well, in our defence, we thought it would be good to show them this beautiful part of France.
What we hadn’t banked on were those blurry, wavy lines undulating through our vision transporting us back in time. Doo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo...
‘Oh look! There’s our favourite pizza place!’, ‘Do you remember the time we drank too many Kir Royales/skiied down the road/slept in the car on the mountain?’
But the wavy lines faded and we found ourselves making constant comparisons to the crazy, loved-up couple we were and the crazed, middle-aged, occasionally-in-love couple we are now. It was very unsettling.
During our visit we went back to the gorgeous town of Riquewihr. My pre-children memories of this place involve mulled wine, gazing at the prettiness and well I think that’s about it. I wasn’t sure how a post-children trip would go.We wandered around, had some lunch and then because the kids were nagging, took the tourist train.
What fun! We would never have done that 15 years ago!
We trundled out of the town waving at onlookers (eldest daughter dying of shame), up into the vineyards and beheld the beauty of Riquewihr from on high. Then came back down and went to visit the prison and the torture chamber. The kids were entranced, although one of those torture implements made me feel a little queasy.
As we left there was just enough time to race into a wine cellar, déguste for a bit and then fill the car with yummy Alsace wine. We wouldn’t have done that 15 years ago; we were too young and our palates were definitely too crass.
Our four day trip was thought-provoking. On the one hand; four amazing children that we didn’t have back then. On the other; we are no longer young, carefree and reckless.
Ugh! The pain of middle-age.
Anyway, in Riquewihr we went into this cool gingerbread shop selling all manner of gingerbread things. I bought a mould for a gingerbread house and a sachet of pain d’épices spice.
I wish I could say I have made you a gluten free, egg free, dairy free gingerbread house. But I tried (twice), it collapsed, I cried and let’s say no more about it.
But what I have made for you are iced, spiced Christmas biscuits! So, actually, that short trip back in time was worth it after all.
Iced Christmas Biscuits
As I type this I am tucking into some 3 day old Iced Christmas Biscuits and dipping them into my mulled wine. It's shocking, decadent behaviour but hey, it's Friday night and after the snowbound week I've had (how many kids? All at home for days on end?) I feel entitled. And they are yum by the way, even when stale. Result.
(The snowmen freak me out a bit)
To date I've only made these gluten free, egg free and dairy free not all my usual combinations. But if you want to use real eggs, replace the apple sauce and pinch of xanthan gum with 2 real eggs. You may have to gradually add extra flour at the end if the mixture is too wet to roll out.
175g dairy free margarine
90g apple sauce (I used one of those purees for babies)
A pinch of xanthan gum
1 tsp vanilla extract (not essential)
400g Doves Farm Gluten Free plain white flour
3-4 tsps pain d'epice spice from Riquewihr OR:
3-4 tsps mixed spice Or:
a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground star anis (does that exist? Mulled wine is taking its toll...)
Rice milk to moisten dough if necessary
Extra GF flour for rolling out
For the icing:
300g icing sugar (approximately, more may be needed)
Food colouring of your choice (use paste colourings instead of liquid, much better. Here's a site)
Lemon juice to mix
Piping bags and smooth piping nozzle (I mean one that isn't crinkly at the end, but can't find the right words. Will try again when the wine has worn off)
- Feeling a bit squiffy now, (damn you mulled wine) but shquinting owlisshly at the screen and conshentrating very hard, so let's hope I don't make any mistakes
- Line some baking trays with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to 170˚ degrees celsius
- Put the margarine and sugar into a large mixing bowl and cream together
- Add the apple sauce and the pinch of xanthan gum (or two eggs if you wish) and vanilla extract and mix to combine
- Add the flour and spices and mix again. If the dough seems too dry add rice milk gradually until you have a soft, workable dough. If using eggs, you might want to add a bit more flour
- Break off a good chunk of the dough and roll it out to a thickness of 2-3mm
- Cut out pretty festive shapes and place them onto your lined baking trays
- Repeat until you've used up all the dough and are getting really fed up of these damned Christmas biscuits
- Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, you can get them out when they're a bit soft. They don't really go brown, so don't leave them in there too long
- Remove from oven and cool and then to the icing
- Seive the icing sugar into as many bowls as you want colours. Does that make sense? If you want 3 colours, use 3 bowls and split the icing sugar between them. (That made more sense didn't it?)
- Add a scrape of food colouring paste and a squirt of lemon juice and then watch in alarm as you mix it all together and that tiny scrape of colouring paste turns your icing a violent shade of whatever colour you added. (Moral: go easy on the colouring paste)
- You are aiming for a very thick icing that you can pipe, but not one that is so thick that it is grainy. Smooth is what we want. Add more icing sugar if need be - or more lemon - and keep alternating until you've got the right consistency
- Pipe prettiness onto your biscuits and leave it to set. Decorate with GF, EF, DF goodies (These are good)
- Serve to your happy children and pour yourshelf a good glassh of mulled wine. You desherve it
(Warning: small children may steal these biscuits before the end of your photo shoot)