Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers - Decorated 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.

The challenge also required us to decorate the cookies with a September theme. My god-daughter/niece's birthday is in September, and her mother decided to throw her a tea party. So I thought - how about some tea cup and tea pot cookies as favors for the kids? I scrounged around local stores to find the appropriate cookie cutters, found the tea cup, but had to resort to a coffee pot for the second batch of cookies. Tea - coffee - same difference ;-).

The recipe we used is from Peggy Porschen, whose name I've seen in a lot of baking websites. She seems to be a high priestess of all things cake and cookie related. I'm glad I now have a fail-proof go-to recipe, since there are so many dizzying recipes out there for basic sugar cookies. The cake is buttery but light at the same time, and quite simple to put together. Next time I attempt these (and oh boy, YES! There will be a next time, I'm already planning out Christmas cookies) , I'm going to be a little more adventurous and add some flavouring to the dough, perhaps lemon or even cinnamon.

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

• 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.
• 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)
I found this a little tricky to do, the parchment paper tends to slide all over the place. I placed one hand on the paper to keep it steady and rolled with the other hand. =(
• 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.
• 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.

I had small cookie cutters, and I still rolled out the dough too thin. So I ended up with over 56 cookies. The thicker the dough, the better for the cookie (and your back, so you don't have to ice a ton of cookies!)
Wilton's Royal Icing (Wilton)
•3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
•4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
•6 tablespoons warm water

Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
*When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

I first outlined the cookies with white royal icing (thick consistency). This proved to be back-breaking work. I used a small Wilton nozzle tip (#2), and my hand was very unsteady as I traced the outline, so this proved to be quite messy. I used pink dye on the thin consistency royal icing to "flood" the cookies.

Then I dyed the remaining royal icing in green to add some detail and piping on top of the cookies. The coffee pots also got a silver dregee ball for the "lids".
Of course, I probably should have checked with the party planner as to what color scheme she was going to use BEFORE I iced the cookies. She went with pink and blue. Check out my sister-in-laws pretty table setting. It was a perfect tea party for some pretty little ladies.

Thanks to the Daring Bakers (check out other members fantastic creations) and Mandy in particular for pushing me off my proverbial lazy behind so I could attempt these cookies. they were lots of fun and I learnt a lot in the process. Looking forward to making these again for more family events and celebrations!


Christina said...

Very cute idea! Perfect for a tea party!

MandyM said...

Your cookies are so cute and just the perfect thing for a tea party. Lovely!

Thank you for taking part of the September challenge :)

silverrock said...

Awww... those tea cup, tea pot cookies look super cute! Great job on this month's challenge!

Rachel said...

Hey Ann.. A lot of cookies thee with a lot of details. Love the pastel hues and the table ware too.

Lena Jayadev said...

Ann...cookies looks awesome... looks like small toys.. :)

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

How perfect for the teaparty. They look so pretty. Your god daughter must have been thrilled with them.

Finla said...

I told you in the forum i want to be your niece. The cookies look absloutly beautiful.

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

ohh they look so so cute. after seeing all you daring bakers this month am planning to make some for my son this Christmas.
between the semolina query in my basboosa post. yes semolina is sooji. but for this basboosa recipe I will recommend some coarse variety semolina (but not grainy kind that we use for making rava idlis). the finer variety kind of clump together and makes it heavy. if you get coarse ones just grind it for a few seconds to get the desired thickness.

Joanne said...

Aww these are just the cutest! i'm pretty sure I would have loved to have them at my birthday party when I was little...heck I'm pretty sure I would love them NOW.

Sirius73 said...

Such cute cups and pots... :-)

Daisy Roshan said...

awesome creation and the step by step pics

Sarah Naveen said...

Those decorated cuties looks awesome..

Renata said...

Your cookies are adorable! So delicate. I also have plans for more cookies. Cinnamon and lemon flavorings sound great! I'll try that as well.

Renata said...

Your cookies are adorable, so delicate. I also have plans for more cookies. Lemon and cinnamon sound great, I'll try that as well.

poppyseed said...

Your cookies are so adorable. I'm just reading your blog for the first time since I received your comment on CTB. Nice Site! This party looks beautiful!