Daring Bakers |Sugar Cookies

My first day of high was…interesting. I really can’t call it fun, nor can I call it drop dead horrible. The worst thing was that I got continually lost. No, I am not direction challenged or anything of that sort, it’s just that the school is huge. I know, I know, all high schools are huge. But I swear I think my high school is extra huge. For some reason I always seem to end up on the opposite side of the school from the place I need to get to! It’s just…annoying. A conversation between me and the hall monitor- Me: Hi, can you help me find my bus please? Her:Oh sure, what’s your bus number? Me: 8 Her: Oh dear, that’s actually at the other end of the school. Me:<twitching with anger silently>.

Anyways it has gotten better, and I can find my way to all of my classes and now my only pain is the long hours of homework…It makes me seriously miss my middle school…

But thank god I got Daring Baker’s done before school started, other wise I would have had absolutely no time to get anything in!

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.

I was immediately excited after reading about this! I’ve always wanted to decorate sugar cookies, but never really had a chance to, considering I have a health conscious family and they tend to shy away from anything that involves the word sugar and has icing on it. So here was my chance to finally decorate!

So I went out to the store and bought everything with these beautiful mehndi -ish designs in my head, and then I came back and read all of the rest of the challenge. And then I realized it had to be September themed(as in if there is anything important to you in September you make that). It put a serious damper on my mehndi ideas but, I was still happy. Except I had no idea what sort of theme to do now.

So I listed a bunch of things that were going on in September for me:

  • School
  • Good-bye to constant visits to NYC
  • Fall
  • Asian Pear Picking(a tradition my family has, and every year we go to this Korean farm a couple of miles from our house, and pick this amazing, amazing pear…so crisp and juicy and with just the right touch of sweetness)

And that’s all I had. And slowly eliminated some on them only to end up with one.

  • School -The last thing I wanted to do was remind myself of school.
  • Goodbye to constant visits to NYC
  • Fall – too many people would be doing that
  • Asian Pear picking – How am I supposed to illustrate this? My cookie would end up decorated looking like a bunch of yellow circles with stems poking out on top…

And so goodbye to NYC it was. The story behind it? Well in the summer every year we have constant and random trips to NYC, but they always end when school starts because we don’t have enough time:( So these cookies were my good bye.

These look nothing like New York, but I always thought of it as the crazy city so I figured, why not actually make this crazy city?

And so I did, and I think this was pretty decent for my first time using Royal Icing. I will have to work on that though…the icing is little messy…okay maybe not a little…

So anyway want to learn how to make these?

Okay so first start out with the sugar cookies:

Sugar Cookies

  • ½ cup + 7 Tbsp Brown Butter(or regular 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

Leave your butter out until it’s room tempreture! I always forget and then end up sticking it in the oven for a couple of minutes and ending up with uneven warmed butter. I doesn’t do anything, it just makes it harder to cream.

And making brown butter: Heat up a skillet and chop your butter up into slices and toss them on the skillet. Wait for it all to melt and continue waiting and watching the butter, and look for it turning a chocolate brown and smelling lovely and nutty(it’s an amazing smell!! I love it so much!) and then pour into a bowl and freeze for about five minutes or until it’s solid, and then after that just mix it up until its smooth and your good to go :)

1.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.

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: 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.

4. Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces. (This makes it wayyy easier, trust me)

5. 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.

6. Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.

7. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.

8. 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  350°F.
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.

9. Leave to cool on cooling racks.

10. 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.

Okay now…

Royal Icing:

  • 2½ – 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
  • 2 Large Egg Whites
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Directions

  1. Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.

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

  1. 2. 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.

  1. 3. 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.

Consistency:
• 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 Bag
• 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 parchment cone or 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 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 colour border, eg a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you’re 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.

Hope you have fun making your own and enjoy!

Enjoy with a glass of milk! (seriously. I know most people usually have chocolate chip cookies with milk but I like these with milk too, because it downplays the sweetness)

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8 thoughts on “Daring Bakers |Sugar Cookies

  1. Aparna says:

    “Crazy city” is indeed an orighinal idea, and I like your skyscrapers. :) Btw, in India its mehendi time all the year round. :) Especially Septermber which signifies the bginning of the wedding season, amongt other things. :)

  2. Xiaolu says:

    These turned out super cute. Sorry HS got off to a bumpy start but it sounds like it’s getting better. It can be a lot of work, but there’s a lot of fun to go with it too :). I can’t believe you’re already blogging/baking at such an early age. I didn’t start until I was 24! You rock!

  3. Kocinera says:

    These cookies are so cool! I love your NYC theme. The pastel colors and the shapes are so cute.

    By the way, I can totally commiserate with your directionally-challenged-ness. I’ve gotten lost at college more than once…and I’ve been going there for 2 years! :D

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