Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge - Decorated Sugar Cookies - Kids All The Way

Yes you got it..... It's a fun challenge so we've spend loads of time monkeying around.....
Cookies weren't a mental block like most of the other Daring Baker Challenges, cause I've done them before for Easter Bunnies, Gunjan and Vibha(with a different recipe though). How can a Daring Bakers Challenge be kept easy????? So I go n complicate my life by adding various Cookies Shapes, various Icing Colours, new Recipe and Quantity(some 100 or so cookies in 2 days)... n Daks baking with me........(which halves my speed cause she wants to do everything I'm doing.)

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.

Cookies galore it is.... 1st September is Daksayani's birthday and so the month of kids...... all the kids [actually kids n childish adults.... after all there's a child in all of us :) ] around me got their share of cookies.....

That's new born baby Aadya, her delighted parents Bhawna n Vibhore along with Ranbeer n Meetu. Aadya gave me a drooly smile when she saw the cookies[Her mommy ate the cookies] n Ranbeer called me to say the cookies were 'Yummy'..... Am On-Top-Of-The-World.......

That's Aarushi n Lily.... the lovely daughter's of Anuraag n Rimjhim had loads of fun posing for pictures.....

Basic Sugar Cookies
[I made 2 batches, 1 with Lemon Zest(Daks can't eat chocolate) and 1 with chocolate]

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.
• 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.

Daksayani had a great time making the cookies with me. She rolled her own dough, stamped the cookies n lay them on the lined baking tray, oven bit I handled. This kid wants to do everything on her own n just won't let me help....... "Nachi didi, I know na how to do... You can teach me 1 time..... rest I will do... On my own... See See.... My lovely looking flower... I'll colour it pink n yellow..... When will we bake them? Can I colour them now?" Gosh the impatience.....

We spent the whole day stamping out the cookies and put the cookie trays back in the fridge to chill the butter before we baked them so they won't spread. She returned the next day in this hanumanji costume n pranced around the whole house while the oven preheated itself for baking her cookies which she wanted to give her friends...... She posed with the cookies I had baked the previous night after she left.

Royal Icing: [For my number of cookies, I halved this quantity]
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.Decorating Your Cookies: Royal Icing
The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.
There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.

The Same Consistency Method
• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions
• Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10
• If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 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, do the 10 second test, 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

Two Different Consistencies Method
- 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.

• 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.

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.
• 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.

Sudha Bua made this clown with us..... You should have seen Daks dancing up n down... doing the monkey jig out of excitement of making this clown..... Gunjan ate this riot of colour :)

The chocolate cookies were soft moist n intensely Chocolateyyyyy.... :)

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.

These margarita glasses are my absolute fav.... No prizes for guessing why? cause my fav drink is a Margarita.... the lemon wedges got a bit big for the glasses as they spread while baking(I wasn't careful to use a cold cookie tray)... but nevertheless..... this is my fav shot in the entire post..... Snigdha, Partha and I enjoyed them :)


It's a very buttery cookie recipe which bakes yummy cookies without expanding if, you make sure the oven is at the right temp, don’t use hot cookie pans, make sure the dough n stamped cookie is chilled, try not to re-roll the cookie dough more than 3/4 times. The lesser contact with your hands, the lesser chances of the butter melting n flour the work surface liberally.

We had a Stampful of Colourful F-U-N.....

Thanks Mandy...


Anuraag Godika said...

Loong Post, and very colorful pictures. :-P
Loved the cookies Nachiketa, and sure wish that I had got more share of them. Unfortunately Aarushi's home-time is larger than mine, and the little princess finished them all.

Richa Sharma said...

It's a treat to watch Daksyani baking after so many days and she looks as adorable as ever. Loved her in the Hanuman costume :D

The cookies.. well.. they made me regret y dont i have kids (the parents got so many :( )

But they were super yum and so cute that i had to fight for choosing one.

Nachi... u sure bring a lot of color in this bland world :)

Bhawna said...

Oh God Nachi!
It was one of the sweetest gifts for my baby. The cookies were amazing.... Aadya says BIG thank you maasi :-D.

And BTW, Daksayani looks completely at ease in the kitchen and would become a serious protege!

Smita Srivastava said...

Thats the best post on ur blog ... I jus love love the colorful cookies n the chirpy kids ... Awesome . BTW great clicks too !!!

suma said...

The kids sure looks like they had a blast! I must do this sometime with my kids too! Cute cookies..

Meetu said...

The cookies were absolutely amazing and Ranbeer loved the softy and finished it within no time. Great work Nachi :)