Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Sugar Cookies (September 2010)

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Sugar cookies are a long-standing tradition in our family. I have fond memories of the sweet treats from my childhood. In fact, we have a “secret family recipe” that has been passed on throughout the years (nope, I’m not sharing that one on the internet!). When I saw that the challenge this month was sugar cookies, I was happy (knowing it wouldn’t be much of a challenge) but also a bit disappointed (knowing I wouldn’t learn a whole lot).

The good news is that a friend asked me to bake and decorate sugar cookies as baby shower favors for her sister. Her sister is having twins soon so the theme was Noah’s Ark. I thought I would try something new and order pressed sugar decorations from SugarCraft to use on a standard cookie shape. This was I could make a bunch of them quickly and still have them be adorable. She also asked me to make and decorate a sheet cake with the design of the invitation on the cake (and there was my challenge for the month!).

I used my family recipe for the cookies and a royal icing recipe I knew and trusted (since that’s what my friend had tasted and wanted). The whole process is fairly straight forward. My best tip is to use multiple pans for baking. I use two with Silpats, and can basically be baking from start to finish with no breaks since they only take about 8-10 minutes per batch. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to roll, cut and get the next batch ready.

So…the pressed sugar decorations arrived (amazingly intact) and were super cute (I thought!). Here’s a glamor shot of the cookies and then how I wrapped them to be favors.
 

Here are a few other cookies that I’ve done over the years…I think I’m getting better! What do you think:
Oh, and for those that are wondering…here’s how the sheet cake turned out.

 
It turned into a major undertaking, but was worth it in the end. I’m told the mom-to-be was quite happy with both the cake and the cookies. I’m so glad to be a very small part of this important event in her growing family’s life. 

To see how the other Daring Bakers did with this challenge, head over here. They made some amazing cookies!!

And one last thing…if you want to order cookies, a cake or other dessert from me, just let me know!

The Daring Bakers Recipe (Because I can’t give away the family recipe!)
Basic Sugar Cookies
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Directions
  • Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture.
  • Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
  • Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
  • Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch).
  • Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
  • Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
  • Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
  • Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
  • Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  • Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
  • Leave to cool on cooling racks.
  • Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

Royal Icing
You can find the Royal Icing Recipe I use by clicking here. Just add a bit more water to the recipe for flooding.

Daring Baker’s Royal Icing
315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional
  • Tip: 2 amounts of icing suga are listed, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
Directions
  • Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
  • Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
  • Add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
  • Beat on low until combined and smooth.
  • Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
  • Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap or moist paper towel while not in use.
Decorating Your Cookies: Flooding
"Flooding” a cookie is a technique used when covering a cookie with Royal Icing.

1. You outline the area you want to flood which helps create a dam.
2. Then fill or flood inside the area you’ve outlined.

Decorating Your Cookies: What You'll Need
  • Piping bags / Parchment Cones / Ziplock Bags
  • Elastic bands
  • Piping tips (between sizes 1 & 5)
  • Couplers
  • Glasses (handy for standing your piping bags in)
  • Clean clothes, dry & damp
  • Toothpicks
  • Gel or paste food colouring 
Decorating your cookies: Royal Icing
The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.

There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.

The Same Consistency Method:
  • Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.
  • Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10.
  • If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
  • Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
  • Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.
Two Different Consistencies Method:
  • Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.
  • Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.
  • For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
  • If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
  • Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
  • Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.
  • For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing. 
  • If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency. 
  • Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
  • Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test. 
Colouring:
  • Separate Royal Icing into separate bowls for each colour you plan on using.
  • Tip: Make sure to cover the bowls with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent the top from setting and then making lumps. 
  • Using a toothpick, add gel or paste colouring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until desired colour is reached. 
  • Tip: You can use liquid food colouring but you might not be able to get the desired strength of colour, liquid colouring will also thin out the icing so you’ll need to add more icing sugar to thicken it again.
Prepping and filling your piping bags:
  • Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers.
  • Tip: You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes
  • Tip: A size 1 tip is best for doing intricate details. A size 2 tip is good for some details and outlining. Fill or flood with sizes 2 – 5.
  • Tip: You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a ziplock bag with a tiny bit snipped off the corner. I would however recommend getting a piping set if you don’t have one as it will be much easier and more precise.
  • Stand the piping bags in glasses with the tops of the bags folded over the top of the glass.
  • Fill your icing bags with each coloured icing.
  • Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.
Decorating: Outlining
  • Fit the piping bag with a size 2 or 3 tip.
  • Tip: Or snip a very small bit of the corner off of a Ziploc bag
  • Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.
  • Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to outline the cookie.
  • Start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow of icing falls onto the cookie, making it an even and neater outline.
  • As you start to reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the icing outline.
  • Tip: If you’re doing an intricate cookie, like a snow flake, you won’t be able to lift the tip as far away from the cookie.
  • If you’re doing a different colour border, eg. a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you are flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.
Decorating: Flooding
  • Fit the piping bag with a size 2-5 tip, the bigger the area being filled, the bigger the tip.
  • Tip: Or cut slightly more off the corner of a Ziploc bag to create a slightly larger opening.
  • Quickly zigzag back and forth over the area you want to fill.
  • Tip: You need to be quick when flooding the cookie so don’t worry too much if it’s not filled in neatly.
  • Using a toothpick or clean paintbrush, push the icing around into the gaps that are still remaining.
  • Either pick up the cookie and tip it from side to side to even out the filling, or lightly bang the cookie down on your kitchen counter.  
Decorating: Melding colours
  • If you would like to add lines or dots to the base colour that you flooded the cookie with so that they meld and dry as a smooth surface, you need to add the lines/dots/patterns as quickly as possible after flooding and smoothing the surface of the cookie.
  • Tip: Make sure to have all the colours you’re planning on using ready and close by so that you can switch between colours quickly 
  • Simply pipe other colours onto the flooded surface in patterns or lines which you can either leave as that or then drag a toothpick through to make marbling patterns. 
Decorating: On top of flooding
  • If you’d like to do other patterns/outlines or writing on top of the flooded surface so that they are raised above the flooded background, simply allow the icing to dry, preferably over night.
  • Fit the piping bag with tip sizes 1-3. 
  • Pipe patterns or write on top of the dry icing.
  • Tip: For writing, the consistency of your icing should be thicker rather than thinner, drag a knife through your icing and when the surface smoothes around 12-15 seconds, the consistency is correct. 
Packaging and Storing:
  • Once fully decorated, allow cookies to dry for 24 hours in a cool and dry area.  
  • Stack cookies in an airtight container, from largest cookies at the bottom, to smallest and more intricate at the top, with parchment or wax free paper in between the layers.
  • Store in a cool and dry area with the container’s lid firmly sealed.
  • Will last for about a month if stored this way.
Enjoy With Love,
Christina

1 comment:

  1. Christina! The cookies are beautiful! I love them!

    ReplyDelete