Decorated Sugar Cookies: Daring Bakers Challenge


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.

September has been an eventful month for me.  Amid the back to school activities for my son, my parents visiting from out of the country, and near blinding myself, I also joined the Daring Bakers.  This month is my first time participating in the challenges, and I'm excited to be a part of the baking fun.  The challenge this month was to bake decorated sugar cookies, with the theme being September - and whatever that symbolized to you.  Since the posting date was for the 27th, which also just happens to be my 7th wedding anniversary, my theme was a no brainer.

I have never decorated cookies with royal icing before, and while it may sound like a simple challenge, there is more skill involved in using royal icing than you would believe.  After three hours of outlining, flooding, drying, and randomly decorating cookies with no design scheme in mind - my feet were throbbing, my back resembled a hunchback's, and my fingers were permanently cramped into claw-like talons.  But at least my cookies turned out pretty.  I used the color scheme from my wedding, which was different shades of purple, and was pleased with my experiment in the world of royal icing.



Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36 / 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

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.
• 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.
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:
315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Directions
• 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.
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.


I was feeling in a creative mood, so I saved a few to decorate a little differently. I wanted to try painting with food coloring, and came up with these little scenes in honor of our anniversary.


My husband couldn't tell they were owls, but my three year old could.  So either my drawing skills are on a level with a preschooler - or my three year old has an eye for art.  I choose to go with the latter :)


21 comments:

Belinda @zomppa said...

These turned out so wonderful!! Great success on the challenge.

Renata said...

I'm amazed at how detailed your decoration is! Great job on the challenge!

chef_d said...

Happy anniversary, very nicely decorated cookies. I love the painted ones with the owl family :)

Aparna said...

Happy Anniversary. I certainly recognized them as owls. :)
I liked your colour choice and your cookies look really nice.

jana@cherryteacakes.com said...

love the painting with food coloring! i did that with a few extras of mind and had these andy warhol flowers it was so fun!

Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels said...

You did a fantastic job with the cookies, they look wonderful and so delicious! I joined the Daring Bakers but didn't quite join in time for the September challenge. I'm looking forward to participating in the next challenge and seeing your final results for next month's challenge! :) And can I just say again how much I LOVE your blog!

es65 said...

Too pretty to eat! I'll take a dozen :)

Susi said...

Happy Anniversary! Your cookies look great with my favorite being the owl ones, they look darling!

Joy said...

Good job. They look great. Congrats.

Becky said...

My favorites are the owls, too. The artwork on the cookies is very detailed. Happy Anniversary!

Christina said...

Happy anniversary! What a perfect challenge to use to celebrate :) Welcome!

sara @ CaffeIna said...

Awww, happy anniversary! These cookies are adorable!

scrambledhenfruit said...

Cute cookies- I love the owls!

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Happy Anniversary! These are too, too cute. And that is some serious piping!!

Karen said...

The owl cookies are adorable (and you can definitely tell they're owls!)...Happy 7 years!

Monet said...

You did a wonderful job...I could totally tell that they were owls. And Happy Anniversary! Seven years is quite the accomplishment. Here's to many more anniversaries to come! Thanks for sharing these beautiful treats with us!

Pacheco Patty said...

I love the owls, happy 7th anniversary, nice reason to celebrate with homemade sugar cookies:)

Renuka said...

Happy Anniversary....they definately look like owls....love the painting technique. awesome job.I found your site through daring bakers.

www.cuminandcardamom.blogspot.com

MandyM said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Your cookies are lovely, and I really like the little scenes of the owls (yes, I could tell they were owls!)

Lovely baking & thank you for taking part of the September challenge :)

ieatoats said...

Awww, happy anniversary! Loved the owl cookies..theyare very clearly owls!

Lea said...

So detailed and yet perfect!




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