Will these nerdy homemade biscuit cutters turn me into a Christmas biscuit fan?
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Will these nerdy homemade biscuit cutters turn me into a Christmas biscuit fan?

Kevin Hofer
Zurich, on 11.12.2018
Revision: Eva Francis
Do you hate baking Christmas biscuits? I know I do. This year I decided to make nerdy biscuit cutters with a 3D printer in the hope it would make me like baking a bit more.

At the weekend I’m baking Christmas biscuits with my family. It’s not exactly my favourite thing in the world. You see, I’m a real Grinch and I dread anything to do with Christmas. But I’ll admit it would be good if I could at least enjoy baking a bit more. That way my inner Grinch wouldn’t take the fun of it away from my wife and son. While I’m cutting out the biscuits, I’m drawn back to the old days.

As a child, I always liked to bake with my mum on snowy Sundays – yes, we’re talking about a time when there was such a thing as snow in the Swiss Plateau. What I liked best was cutting out shapes with the mushroom cutter, which was my favourite. All the fond childhood memories do admittedly make baking more enjoyable. I don’t love it but equally, I don’t dread it any more.

I put my thinking cap on to work out how I could get more enthusiastic about making biscuits. I’ve got it: using handmade, nerd-friendly biscuit cutters. I take a quick look on Thingiverse to get some ideas. Now there’s no stopping me. I’m hooked. As luck would have it, the 3D printing community on the website has already talked about nerdy biscuit cutters at length. Now I just need to pick a cutter shape and fire up the 3D printer in the office on Monday morning. If only I had the biscuit cutters already...

Nerdy things to cut out

My favourite biscuit shape when I was a kid was Mario mushroom, so it’s no surprise that’s the one I picked first. I mean, that’s what turned Mario into Super Mario. What’s not to like? While we’re on the subject of superheros, I like mine dark and pensive. That’s why I chose the bat sign as my second cutter.

And what flies like a bat? The golden snitch. My wife is a huge Harry Potter fan, so something linked to the world of Harry Potter has to be included. And talking of the universe, we can’t not have [R2D2](https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:229667. That’s why I pick him as the fourth cutter. And in Tetris, shapes fly from the top to the bottom, so I have to print out the letter T from my beloved Tetrimino.

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In terms of actually printing the shapes, the process doesn’t take long. After a few hours, I’m clutching them all in my hand. It might sound strange given how much I had to force myself to bake at the weekend but I’m now champing at the bit to try out the biscuit cutters.

As I always get home later in the evening, I ask my wife if she can get me the ingredients for Milanese biscuits. I just want to fire up the oven right away. «How many do you want to make?» asks my wife. «Dunno. A kilo? I’ll take them into work with me. I’m sure my colleagues will make short work of them.» The silence on the end of the line tells me I’ve got the measurements way off. «A kilo might be a bit much.» «It’s fine,» I respond.

Ready, steady, bake

All set with the five nerdy biscuit cutters in my bag, I make my way home to bake. The dough comes together quickly, even if the huge lumps in front of me seem like a bit of overkill.

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It goes without saying that I start with the Mario mushroom cutter. And I roll out the dough so quickly because I can’t contain my excitement. It’s true to say you get a kind of kick out of pressing the cutter into the dough. Then I try to lift the cutter off but nope, it’s not having any of it.

The dough stays glued to the stamp. In attempting to free it, I accidently break bits off. Sugar. I have another go but it’s the same story. Frustrated, I put the Mario mushroom to one side and see if I have any more luck with the Batman shape. It works perfectly, and even the golden snitch and the Tetrimino T come out fairly well. That gives me some much-needed motivation.

That is until I get to R2D2. I press the cutter into the dough then go to lift it off but of course, it’s all stuck inside the stamp. At first, I make cautious attempts to ease it out, but it doesn’t work so I try with more force. While this does produce better results, R2D2 is now broken into multiple pieces. Beep-bee-bee-boop-bee-doo-weep. Disappointed, I put R2D2 on Mario mushroom. I console myself with the thought that at least three of the five cutters work.

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I get back to business and roll the dough again for the other shapes. I’m so stupid! It makes total sense that Mario mushroom and R2D2 didn’t work. I rolled the dough out way too thick, meaning it got pushed too far into the cutters. So now I’m rolling it out a bit thinner and trying again. Yay, it works. Mario mushroom is still on the fragile side but credit where credit’s due. R2D2 comes out well, too. Now all I have to do is use up the remaining kilo of dough.

Baking overload

After three rounds, my initial euphoria is waning. I’d even say my mood has swung in the other direction. I was, am and will remain no fan of baking Christmas biscuits. No amount of R2D2s and Tetriminos can change that. But baking is boring, tiresome and not appetising work – by the time I’ve finished baking I feel sick from all the raw dough consumption. I just can’t stand the stuff. In future, I think I’ll just print the biscuit cutters and leave the baking to everyone else.

And with that thought, I bundle the rest of the dough up in foil and stick it in the freezer. After closing the door, I catch my wife’s eye and clock the know-it-all glance. «Well, I did tell you a kilo was too much.» Bummer. Now I’ll have to bake the leftover dough after all. There’s no chance I’ll get away with «forgetting» about it in the freezer until next winter and then throwing it out.

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Kevin Hofer
Kevin Hofer

Editor, Zurich

From big data to big brother, Cyborgs to Sci-Fi. All aspects of technology and society fascinate me.

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