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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.
There is nothing better than making edible decoration for your celebrations. This was my philosophy when I made the birthday parties for my family. It was a shame to see all the effort spent on non edible decoration going to the trash can after the party. These cookies are perfect for any themed occasion. For this challenge, we had to represent the month of September using decorated cookies, whatever September means to each participant.
For my September theme I decided to celebrate the seasons, as they are being so special to me. Brazil is a tropical country and the changing of seasons is not as obvious as in non tropical countries. September is the beginning of Spring in Brazil, while here in Korea it is the beginning of Autumn. So I decided to represent both!
Korea is not very traditional in baking, so finding baking supplies is not so easy, but still, I found quite a reasonable selection of cookie cutters. Guess what! I couldn't find the Autumn themed cutters that I wanted anywhere, except for some imported ones that cost a fortune!
On my extensive search for cookie cutters here in Korea, I found things that I wasn't exactly looking for. I couldn't resist on buying a cookie cutter that is VERY CUTE!!! A 3D Hello Kitty!
|Isn't she cute?|
I searched the Internet and found some great people sharing their abilities of making their own cookie cutters out of aluminum disposable pans.
Thanks guys! I tried my hand on them, and ended up making a small collection of cutters. Love that!
Check them out here:
For the Spring cookies, I used the recipe provided by our hostess, Mandy, as well as the icing with artificial food coloring. For the Autumn cookies, I made "healthier" cookies, coloring the dough with natural colorings such as green tea, pumpkin and cactus powders (easily found here in Korea). The colored cookies only needed a few details using the royal icing.
Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes approximately 36 x 10cm / 4 inch 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Now, you only have to use your creativity!
If you would like to see the other Daring Baker's wonderful creations, visit "THE DARING KITCHEN". You will also find the original and complete recipe for this challenge, including lots of tips on decorating with royal icing.