Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daring Bakers: Decorated Sugar Cookies


I was afraid and excited about this month' Daring Bakers Challenge at the same time. We had to make sugar cookies. Well, you might say, everybody makes sugar cookies. But we had to make those beautiful decorated ones, which you will see in many books, as favors or in pretty stores.

I always admired those, but after one not so successful try, I just stayed with my old time sugar cookies, just "painted" with a sugar glaze. OK, now I had to try again. And yes, they really deserve the high prices in stores, because it is really difficult to decorate them so immaculate. I guess I have to practice a lot more.


I decided to make graduation cookies, since my sweetheart finally finished his PhD this month. I am very proud of him and I had them ready when I picked him up from the airport. So, my darling these are for you. Congratulations!

I didn't have the right cookie cutters for them, so I cut them out from cardboard. This is a good idea if you need a special shape, but don't find it anywhere or don't wanna buy it just for one occasion.

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.


Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400g all-purpose flour
150g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:
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.)

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. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Roll out each portion to a thickness of about 5mm. 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. (Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.)

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). 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. (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.)


Royal Icing:
175g Powdered/ Icing Sugar
Large Egg White
1 tsp Lemon Juice

Directions:
Beat the egg white with lemon juice until combined. Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites. 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 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

Royal Icing Consistency
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 color you’re using.

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. - To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.

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

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.
• 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.

Coloring
• Separate Royal Icing into separate bowls for each color you plan on using.
• Using a toothpick, add gel or paste coloring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until desired color is reached
• Make sure to cover the bowls with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent the top from setting and then making lumps

Prepping and Filling Your Bag
• Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers
• 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 colored icing.
• Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.
You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes
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.
You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a parchment cone or Ziploc 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.


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 parchment cone or 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 color border let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same color for the outline as you’re flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.

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.

Melding Colors
• If you would like to add lines or dots to the base color 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 colors you’re planning on using ready and close by so that you can switch between colors quickly
• Simply pipe other colors 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.

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.


Enjoy and Guten Appetit!

6 comments:

Maria Beatrix said...

Cute cookies. You really don't need more practice after all.Very nice of you doing this for your sweetheart. Loved the idea. Congrats.

Christina said...

Adorable! So cute that you made them for your sweetie :)

E.K.R said...

Great job on the challenge! Congrats to your sweetie on his graduation - what an accomplishment! :)

Manu said...

Love your idea! The colors are so cute! And use a cardboard is a great idea too! I used it for my beer cookies, because I couldn’t find a special cookie cuter anywhere!
Loved your blog, you have awesome pictures!
Greetings from Brazil!

Kris Ngoei said...

Sabine, I really like the graduation theme cause my friend is also graduating.... These cookies are cute and colorful.

And congrats for DMBLGIT September...

Sawadee from bangkok,
Kris

Susan: My Food Obsession said...

Your sugar cookies look fabulous!

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