Gently melt the butter, muscovado
sugar and syrup in a large pan until
the sugar dissolves. Mix the flour,
spices and ½ tsp salt. Cool the butter
mixture a little, then stir in the bicarb.
Immediately add half the spiced flour
and beat well. Add the egg and the
rest of the spiced flour, then beat well
again until the mixture comes together
as a soft dough. Tip onto a sheet of
foil, flatten to a large disc, then cool
and chill until firm. Will freeze for
up to 6 weeks.
Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
Halve the dough and roll out on a floured
surface. Stamp out trees using a cutter
about 10cm long and arrange, well spaced
apart, on baking sheets. Bake for 12-15
mins until golden. Leave to harden, then
lift onto a rack. Repeat with the remaining
dough. Use the trimmings to stamp
out 3-4cm stars, then bake for 9-10 mins.
To decorate, mix about 3 tbsp water
into the icing sugar to make a thick icing.
Use to sandwich two trees together with
a lolly stick between them. Use the rest
of the icing to ice the trees and stars,
adding sweets or sprinkling with the
sugar. For a neater result, use the writing
icing to make an outline of the tree
before filling in with the icing. Leave
to set. Will keep in a tin for 3-4 days.