Saturday, October 2, 2010

September Daring Bakers- Sugar Cookies



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?  I got this challenge covered.  My mom and sisters and I devote an entire DAY to sugar cookies every year around Christmas time.  I can make and frost sugar cookies blindfolded.  With one hand behind my back.  In the dark.  (Oh wait, I'm blindfolded... the lights may be on)
 
So why am I finally completing September's challenge on October 2?  I guess the same reason I haven't blogged any fun food things since August 27th, ironically last month's DB challenge. 
 
I've been saying it for months (a year?)  I've become a blogging loser.  School has taken priority for me... and now...sadly.... I have to say that work will be taking priority.  After 12 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I'm going back to work next week.
 
Will I continue with the Daring Bakers?  Maybe.  I hope to.... especially after reading what the October challenge entails..... I can't leak any hints, but it will be delish.
 
So onto last months challenge that I've made this month.  Sugar Cookies.  I refuse to use any sugar cookie recipe other than this one, so when this challenge came up, I knew I'd have a problem.  I still used my recipe, because I have never found another sugar cookie that melts in your mouth like that one does.  Using confectioner sugar as opposed to granulated is the key to a perfect sugar cookie. 

For this challenge, we were allowed to use any theme we'd like for our cookies, so long as it related to "September".  Mine is sort of September/October (Septober?) since I just did a basic fall leaf theme.   I made enough to share with several neighbors, as well!   Oh, and I had a great helper.... everyone must get one of these! 



Here is the basic sugar cookie recipe that was provided for this challenge, as well as the Royal Icing recipe.  (I did use the Royal Icing recipe, although I omitted the lemon juice and used Almond extract)



Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
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.
• 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.

• Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid flour flying everywhere.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.

• 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.

• 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.

• Leave to cool on cooling racks.

• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.


Royal Icing:


 2½ - 3 cups Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Directions

• Beat egg whites with flavoring until combined.

• Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.

• Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, 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.

• 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.

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.


Use different colors to add polka-dots around the edge of a cookie

Drag a toothpick through the center of the polka-dots, without lifting up in between the dots.




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.

Be sure to click on the Daring Bakers icon in my sidebar so you can select other Daring Bakers blogs and take a peek at their creations this month!

1 comment:

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Great post! These is such a necessary recipe to conquer - and you certainly have. I love your love heart method on the icing for decoration.