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.

I had made sugar cookies from scratch once before when I made these cookies for the challenge. I was excited to try a new recipe and see how it compared.

Once again, I had trouble with the dough being very crumbly.

If ANYONE knows why this is happening, please let me know! (One theory presented so far is that it's because I use a hand mixer and perhaps the recipe is better suited for the faster and more powerful stand mixers?)

I had to smoosh the dough together to get it to form a ball so I could roll it out.

I did really like Mandy's tip in the recipe of rolling out the dough right after mixing and then refrigerating it so it's easier to roll out; versus refrigerating and then rolling out. I also think the refrigerating after cutout and before baking also helped hold the shape. Her other very handy tip was rolling out the dough in between two layers of wax paper; I loved that!

Sorry, I didn't get pictures of the dough rolled out or in the fridge.

Even though this recipe still had crumbly dough, it did a much better job holding the shape of the cutout than the recipe I tried last time.

Baked cookies on the left; cut out dough on the right...almost exactly the same!

All the baked cookies cooling on the rack.

The challenge required that we decorate the cookies with royal icing, using a flooding technique and any additional piping we wanted. However, the challenge didn't require us to use a specific royal icing recipe, so I just used the Wilton recipe that I usually use.

I knew I didn't need an entire batch of sugar cookies sitting in my house (after all, I have a wedding dress to fit into), so I found them a nice home.

My cousin is a firefighter, so I took the cookies to his firehouse. With that plan in mind, I used a variation of the fire department's logo to decorate the cookies.

I'm told the guys ate them up right away! Which is great news, since it's very likely they'll be receiving the results of future Daring Bakers Challenges.

Here's the recipe if you want to give this version of sugar cookies a try:


Basic Sugar Cookies:

Preparation Time
30 minutes: Making dough & rolling
1 hour min: Refrigeration
8-15 minutes: Baking per tray depending on size of 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 becomingcreamy in texture.
• Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread duringbaking, 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 avoidflour 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 anhour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time andthen 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 insome 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-decoratedcookies can last up to a month.


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