Hi Loves! I am really pleased to bring you our second Career Bliss post…My friend Laura recently started a homemade cookie company and sent me THE most delightful package of her treats:
I can tell you from first hand experience (diets be damned) that her cookies are as delicious as they are adorable, so if any of you fancy yourselves bakers/bakettes. Listen up fools.
Hi Peppermint Bliss readers!
My name is Laura and I am an engineer by day and baker by night! While I love my day job as an engineer in Houston, Texas, I have been searching for an outlet for my creative side. I didn’t really discover my love for baking until about a year ago, when I moved into an apartment with a real kitchen. Now, baking on the weekends and after work has allowed me to satisfy my left brain, the part that I do not always use at work. My primary interests today are cookies: decorated, cutout sugar cookies to be exact.
My blog today takes you step by step through my cookie baking process to give you helpful tips and instructions for making decorated sugar cookies.
I began by experimenting with various cutout sugar cookie recipes until I found the perfect one. The recipe really depends on your own taste, so I would suggest picking your own favorite recipe. A great place to look is on The Food Network website (http://www.foodnetwork.com/). My motto is “keep it simple.” I find that when I challenge myself with very complicated recipes, I am always frustrated in the end. Sugar cookies should never have a very extensive ingredient list or convoluted directions.
Once you make your favorite cookie dough, I think the key is to refrigerate it overnight. Most recipes will recommend at least an hour, but I have found that an hour is not long enough. Refrigerating makes the dough firmer and much easier to roll and cut.
Before rolling out your cookie dough, you should be sure to have the following: a large clean surface, LOTS of flour, a rolling pin (one or more -I prefer at least two), ungreased cookie sheets, an apron (cute is key-always adds to the fun)! As far as cookie sheets, I use a new design that has a thin layer of air in the middle of the sheet, which helps prevent the cookies from burning. You should also be sure to move your oven rack to the position second from the top.
First, flour your surface THOROUGHLY! Too much flour never hurts. If you do not like getting messy…baking cutout sugar cookies is probably not for you. Be prepared to have flour all over you and all over the kitchen by the end! Scoop out a large amount of cookie dough (roughly the size of an orange).
Knead the dough on the floured surface to be sure the dough is covered in flour. Then roll the dough out no thicker than 1/8th inch. Making the dough too thick will cause the cookies to cook unevenly and they will have a more rounded shape, which is not ideal for icing. While rolling, if your rolling pin begins to stick to the surface of the dough, sprinkle a little bit of flour on the surface and on the pin. If you have a good recipe, the dough should not rise or spread, so you can theoretically place the cookies right next to each other on the cookie sheet. I use a spatula to transfer the cookies from the rolling surface to the cookie sheet.
Continue to roll out the rest of the dough in small portions and bake the cutout cookies until all the dough is used. If at any point during the process your dough gets soft and sticky, place it in the refrigerator for about 10-20 minutes to firm it up. Also, be sure to re-flour your surface frequently.
Before icing or storing, let your cookies cool completely. As the icing process can be very time consuming, I recommend baking and icing on separate days. I usually store my cookies in plastic containers for a day or two and then take them out again to ice.
Icing your cookies:
There are two key tips to making icing:
- ALWAYS sift your powdered sugar
- It’s all about the consistency of your icing
There is no real secret to my icing. I use a generic Royal Icing recipe that can be found on The Food Network website (http://www.foodnetwork.com/). Most Royal Icing recipes call for powdered sugar, egg whites and vanilla. You can typically substitute the vanilla with any flavor extract you wish (ideas include mint, almond or lemon juice-be experimental!). The important part of making your icing is to sift the powdered sugar first. As a beginning baker, I avoided sifting powdered sugar, thinking it was too onerous a task, but it is actually very easy and makes your icing nice and smooth and pretty. Definitely worth the extra effort!
Next, add your flavored extract, egg whites, and food coloring, stirring until blended. You want to be sure that your icing is nice and thick. If it is too runny, add more powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add more egg whites (or you can add water).
Once your icing has the right color and consistency, add it to a squeeze bottle with a round applicator top. Sur la Table (http://www.surlatable.com) has some great icing application bottles, which I prefer over the icing bag, because the icing will not slip out the other end.
There are several different techniques to applying icing. I first pipe the icing around the edge of the cookie, which is why I recommend starting with thick icing. You can also use a brush to “paint” on the icing, in which case you would want thinner icing. After piping the icing around the edges of the cookies, add a bit of water to the leftover icing to make it thinner. Then fill the center of the cookies with the runny icing, which should fill the outlined area of the cookie.
Let your base icing coat dry completely before adding any details. Try to limit the number of colors you use and the difficulty of the design to keep things simple. Also, make sure to mix enough icing for the base coat, because replicating a color if you run out is VERY difficult.
Once completely iced, let your cookies dry for AT LEAST 24 HOURS!!! This means do NOT STACK or box up your beautifully iced cookies until they have completely dried. Cookie icing can be very deceiving and may seem dry on the outside, but is still gooey on the inside. I recommend posting “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH” signs all over your kitchen, as it seems no one will have the will power to resist sneaking a taste of your delicious, freshly baked, original cookies!
I chose to bake peppermint ice cream cone cookies in honor of Peppermint Bliss and red “B’s” for the divine Miss Bailey. I hope you all enjoy the read and find my blog interesting and useful. You can become a fan of Laura’s Homemade Cookies on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lauras-Homemade-Cookies/280414586737?ref=ts), where I have posted pictures of all of my creations, or you can reach me at LaurasHomemadeCookies@gmail.com.
Thanks so much for all the great tips Laura! If any of you are having an event in Houston I would HIGHLY recommend you contacting Laura to provide the treats. If you do not live in Houston, never fear, she is setting up a website and I can tell you, her cookies ship very well!
Sooo, are you hungry now?