Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers September 2010: Decorated Sugar Cookies

For a while now I've been extremely interested in the idea of decorating sugar cookies. I've stalked many cookie blogs. Some of my favorites are been Bridget, Amanda and Marian and there is always fantastic information and tutorials at University of Cookie as well.

A couple months ago, I started acquiring different cookie cutters. I drew up sketches of what I wanted to create and for which people I wanted to send them. But I never quite worked up the courage to create the "masterpieces" I felt I would be able to create.

So I was more than excited to find that the Daring Bakers challenge host had read my mind yet again...

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.

Because of Many I was able to push past my fear of decorated sugar cookies and channel my inner Bridget.

We were supposed to decorate the cookies based on what September means to us. Here's what September has meant to me this year:

A friend of mine celebrated her 30th birthday on the 22nd and she invited me over for a pre-birthday girl's celebration the night before. I wanted to do something special for her so I made her these cookies. Little Butt picked the pink for the numbers.

Though they didn't come out exactly like I wanted (they aren't the best or prettiest) I was still excited to give them to her.

Living in New York for 5 years has made me associate September with apples. September is when all the apple festivals were held and I just automatically think of apples when I think of September now. My friend Elsa has a business called Gold & Apel so I wanted to make my apples golden in honor of her (actually, I wanted to send her these golden apple cookies for her birthday but she took off on some crazy European tour instead...I couldn't compete with that!).

And finally...September to me means National Talk Like a Pirate Day. And no Pirate Day is complete without Skull and Crossbones cookies!! These were super fun to make!

Though my cookies aren't perfect and are nowhere near the professional level of the ladies I mentioned above, I'm quite happy with my creations. They were super fun to make. The only downside is that my back ached like crazy when I was finished. I went to bed with a Soma in my belly that night that's for sure.

I definitely think that with a little practice I could get better at these and would be much happier with the results. But not too shabby for a first timer, in my biased opinion anyway.

Thanks to Many for choosing this challenge and forcing me to get with the cookie decorating program. Without her I probably would have continued to procrastinate and never would have discovered how fun these could be.

And now let me show you how I made them:

I started with my ingredients: flour, super fine sugar, butter (unsalted), vanilla and an egg.

Toss the sugar, butter and vanilla in the mixer...

And cream them all together until smooth.

Add in the flour and mix until you get a non-sticky dough.

Knead the dough into a large ball.

Then separate the dough into 3 even pieces.

Roll out each portion between 2 sheets of parchment paper and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once the dough is chilled, peel off one sheet of the parchment paper.

And use your cutters to cut out shapes. Place the shapes on a parchment lined baking sheet and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes (the refrigeration time reduces the chance of spreading during baking).

After that second chill time, bake the cookies until golden then place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Then whip up your icing. The recipe I used calls for powdered sugar, milk, light corn syrup and a little lemon juice.

After you make your icing, tint the icing to the colors you are using and go to town. Again, for some great tutorials on making icing for outlines and flooding you can check out University of Cookie.

Finally, decorate your cookies and allow plenty of drying time. Then share and enjoy!!!

To check out all the other fantastic decorated sugar cookies this month, check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll!

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Basic Sugar Cookie recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen

  • ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  1. Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavorings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture. (Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.) 
  2. Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms. (Tip: If you don’t have a stand mixer you may find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid flour flying everywhere.)
  4. Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
  5. Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
  6. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins. (Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.)
  7. Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
  8. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
  9. Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour. (Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.) 
  10. Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
  11. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  12. Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies. (Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.) (Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.)
  13. Leave to cool on cooling racks.
  14. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired. (Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.)
Sugar Cookie Icing adapted from I am Baker 

  • 1 cup powder sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon emulsion (original recipe calls for 1 drop lemon juice)
  1. Sift the powdered sugar into mixing bowl.
  2. Add milk, corn syrup, and lemon emulsion or lemon juice.
  3. Mix everything together. If too dry, add milk a drop at a time until desired consistency.
  4. Tint to desired colors and decorate cookies as desired.
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