The challenge this month was to not only bake and decorate sugar cookies, but to settle on a theme that represents September to the baker. Easy: my birthday is on the 26th of September, and I for some reason already had a birthday cake cookie cutter.
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.
For me, the only challenge this assignment posed was figuring out a better way to mix and pipe royal icing. I have used it in the past with success; however the process was always a little tricky. While workable, my icing was always very runny, which made outlining difficult since the icing would dribble out of the bag before I even started squeezing. I always forged ahead without outlining, which definitely makes for a messier-looking cookie. Nevertheless, I made piped cookies for Christmas (be kind - these snowmen were my first ever experience with both royal icing and piping bags):
And, if you may remember, I turned tiny heart cookies into strawberries for Andrea's birthday cake:
But back to my runny icing. Some why-didn't-I-think-of-that fixes: start with thicker icing, and use gel food coloring instead of liquid so the consistency of the icing doesn’t change. Another great tip I picked up for ease in filling a piping bag: stuff the bag with the tip into a tall glass, then fold the open end of the bag down over the glass…the icing stays contained and you don’t have to try to balance a bag in one hand while filling it with the other.
To add a bit of depth to the plain sugar cookie, I added lemon zest and lemon extract to both the dough and the icing. It wasn’t a very strong flavor, but what did come through was pleasant enough. I also happen to dislike royal icing (I much prefer buttercream), so I only ate half a cookie, because I figured I should.
Happy birthday to me!
Original post and recipe here.