Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

OK so I guess its about time I actually posted a recipe. But first a small disclaimer: with my first few experimental recipes I, of course, did not take too many pictures so unfortunately there aren't many 'step-by-step' type scenarios. I have some of the finished product though.

I am going to try and put up the results of my experimentation in rough chronological order, so this sees me begin with Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing. I was inspired to try this out based on the gorgeous cookies given as favours at my very good friend Kaz's kitchen tea (I have a suspicion they came from Polka Dot cakes who do gorgeous cookies as well as amazing cakes) and also by one of the ladies from my online Mother's Group who does amazing decorated cookies also.

I used the Joy of Baking recipe - this website is great as it gives you quite a detailed background about the method before the recipe, which I've found most useful.

Sugar Cookies:

1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (approx. 227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

With either an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (at least 3 minutes).

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in cling wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees, with the rack in centre of oven. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Remove one half of the chilled dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out to a thickness of 1 cm. Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the bench. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking (this is optional, they seem to turn out OK if you skip this step but I may have just been lucky).

Bake cookies for about 10 minutes (depending on size) or until they are brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Then you can ice them if you wish. Makes about 36 cookies.

Royal Icing:
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups icing sugar, sifted (note, use the pure stuff, not icing mixture)

Using your electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. This makes about 3 cups.

At this stage you can colour the icing if you wish, or divide between bowls to make different colours. Make sure you cover the icing if you won't use it straight away as it will harden.

To make the icing thicker, add more icing sugar. To thin it out, add water.

After making these, I found some awesome royal icing tips on the Cake Journal site. Her step by step tutorials are very good and easy to follow. Essentially, the trick is to use a thicker icing to pipe an outline, then use a thinned down icing to 'flood' or fill in the cookie. She also gives great tips on icing the cookies with fondant.

So as you can see on my first attempt, I used a thicker icing and basically slathered it on. I found some lovely packets of 'fairy' sprinkles at my local supermarket which I added for that touch of, well, fairiness (they were for a little girls 1st birthday party). I made some more in a butterfly shape for Miss J's 1st birthday in February, using the outline and flood technique but unfortunatley no pics. They still weren't perfect, but sure tasted good!

The biscuits themselves are a very nice, very more-ish plain biscuit. I could definitely eat lots of them. The icing is faintly lemony and a nice addition. Upon tasting my first one it brought back some vivid 'taste memories'. I soon figured out that what I had made here was the home-made version of one of my all-time childhood favourites, Iced Animal Biscuits. D'oh!! All this time lamenting I couldn't get them here in Australia and all they were was simply a sugar biscuit with royal icing! No longer will I go without.

Next up... 'Authentic' Red Velvet Cake

1 comment:

  1. How darling! Pink hearts are always going to win plenty of hearts :)