Monday, March 26, 2012

Crafting Supplies in Sugar Cookies Decorated with Royal Icing

Who doesn't adore craft supplies? Here they are in sugar cookies decorated with royal icing.

Odd subject matter for sugar cookies? Not if you have a friend that sells the most fabulous, unique supplies available online!

My dear etsy friend, schoollocker, recently sent me some cupcake liners, not for baking, but for making pincushions. She knew that I was having trouble keeping pink liners in stock so she kept her eagle eye out for some and sent them to me!

So how to repay her? Cookies! I scoured her shop for inspiration.

Just click on the links below to see the supplies that inspired each cookie.

Can you tell what these are? They're carnival tickets!

And mini envelopes in bright colors. So cute!

And paper tags.

And my most favorite of her supplies. Library cards!

You remember these, right? Schoollocker sent me some a while back that I used to make mini notebooks for my elementary school reunion. Love them!

Last and absolutely least . . .

Keepin' it Real . . .

This is the section in my posts to show you the cookies that I'd really rather not. The cookies that didn't quite live up to the dream.

Buttons. Bah. Stupid holes. Schoollocker's buttons are adorable, unlike my sugar cookie version. So lame.

If you're a crafter, you have to check out The Schoollocker. She has the most awesome supplies. Something for everyone!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ladybug and Leaves Sugar Cookies

More springtime edible goodness! Ladybug and Leaf sugar cookies decorated with royal icing.

These were made with a ladybug cutter. I really wish that I had defined the wings - flooded one, let it dry, then flooded the other. I'll try it next time.

These were made with a balloon cutter. Leave it to Sugarbelle of course.

I think that these are my favorites. So cute! But . . .

Keepin' it Real . . .

This is the section in my posts to show you the cookies that I'd really rather not. The cookies that didn't quite live up to the dream.

Little lady bugs marching around, leaving a cute little trail, right? That was the idea. Not as cute as I had hoped . . .

Maybe if the ladybugs had been bigger? The background had been green? The trail was done with a smaller tip? Meh.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Caterpillar and Leaves Sugar Cookies

This is my entry into a Monthly Cookie Club Theme Challenge. The challenge is to exercise our creativity, to try new things, to share ideas, and learn from other cookie decorators.

The theme for March is "All About Boys". This was perfect for me because I have yet to actually make boy cookies! After digging through my cutters, I settled on a cute little caterpillar that I hadn't yet used and decided to create a set around him, something a young boy might like . . .

The details for my entry . . .

These are sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. I used one consistency for outlining and flooding. A 15-secondish icing. #2 tip to outline and flood. #1.5 tip for the dots and eyes.

I flooded alternating sections of the caterpillar, letting the first three sections dry before flooding the last three.

Stupid craters! Believe it or not, I actually dragged a toothpick through half of the caterpillar sections. I forgot to do so for the first half, so did it for the final three sections of both caterpillars. I thought that dragging through some of them would actually be a good experiment to be able to compare and see if it helped. As you can see, it didn't.

I had fun with these leaves! I used a straw to make bites and holes in the leaves before baking. I started decorating by flooding one half of each leaf. I let that dry for a little while then flooded the other sides.

After that dried for a little while, I made the tiny caterpillars by piping one dot at a time, letting each dry before adding the next. I used a food marker for the little eyes.

I think these came out really cute but I do wish that I had made the caterpillars larger. Those little guys can sure take big bites, huh?

I made these bite-size rounds to add just one more element to the collection. I always think it's nice to have a simple little bite to coordinate with the other cookies. It kinda rounds things out in my opinion.

So there you have it. "All About Boys"

Thanks for looking!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Strawberries and Cherries Sugar Cookies

It's beginning to feel like Spring! Strawberries, Cherries, and Daisy sugar cookies decorated with royal icing.

I just love them. Beautiful to look at, fun to make, and delicious to eat!

(And if you've been following my "dough spreading" issues . . . I'm so happy to report that the last two batches of cookies that I've baked since that post have had NO SPREAD. Woo hoo!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Sugar Cookies

Cupcakes, Balloons, Candles, and mini bite sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. Looks like a party!

These were super fun to make!

The candles were inspired by the talented Cookie Crazie.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saint Patricks Day Sugar Cookies

I had a lot of fun decorating these! Much of that may have had to do with the fact that these cookies didn't spread while baking. Finally! You can read my post on that whole saga here.

I made these for some family friends. Is there a better way to say, "Happy Saint Patrick's Day" than with sugar cookies and royal icing? I don't think so.

The derby hats came out better than my attempt here.

The names of the kids begin with J and B. I think they'll like having their own letter cookies.

Green shamrocks of course and some round cookies that I was playing around with.

Sweet leprechauns and gold coins. If you make cookies, I know that you recognize these leprechauns. Sugarbelle's upside down cupcake fellas. They were so fun to decorate and I love how they came out. I gave ears to one little guy (which you can only see in the photo at the bottom of this post because somebody ate him before the final photo shoot and sending them off to our friends!).

Keepin' it Real . . .

This is the section in my posts to show you the cookies that I'd really rather not. The cookies that didn't quite live up to the dream.

These stripey ones remind me of citrus fruit and summer. I should have left out the yellow. The stripes are kind of wonky too. Oh well.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cookie Dough Spreading - Solutions Finally!

I have finally baked an entire batch of sugar cookies that didn't spread!

Is this issue solved forever or solved temporarily? Not sure yet. All I know is that this is the first time that I've baked cookies and every single one of them baked up perfectly. Nice, crisp edges and no spreading. I'm so thrilled!

I've written a few posts about this whole spreading thing. Trying to figure out what was going wrong. With each experiment / post, I've gotten closer to a solution.

The first post on this issue was about chilling dough. You can read it here.

Then I wrote a post gathering all of the tips I could find on how to stop dough from spreading. That one's here.

Then I put those tips into practice here and ran a whole bunch of experiments.

And last, but not least, I wrote a post about calibrating my oven here.

Finally I put all of that together and I've baked a perfect batch of sugar cookies! With each cookie sheet that I pulled out of the oven, I couldn't believe my eyes. Every cookie sheet, every cookie - no spreading. Wow. Unheard of in this kitchen.

So here's what I did this time to achieve no spreading. . .
  • Used bleached all-purpose flour . . .This was a shot in the dark. I always buy unbleached flour. I read somewhere that unbleached is better for bread making. I love to bake bread so I just always buy unbleached and use it for everything. It never occurred to me that it could affect any of my other baking. Maybe it should have.

    Somewhere in my cookie reading, I saw that it said to use bleached flour. That's when the light bulb in my head went off. It was sure worth a shot. Maybe this was a factor in my spreading. Maybe not.
  • Increased the amount of flour I had been using.
  • Started with cold butter . . . Before, I had been softening my butter. Sometimes I'd leave it out for a few hours. Other times just an hour or less. This time I decided to take the butter out, cut it into cubes and wait 15 minutes before getting started. I'm looking for something that works and that I can be consistent with.
  • Didn't over beat the butter and sugar . . .I beat it just until the sugar was incorporated. Nothing was light and fluffy about it.
  • Used less baking powder . . . I didn't omit it all together. I just decreased it.
  • Chilled the dough after rolling and again after cutting.
  • Used flour to roll the dough between waxed paper . . . I often use plastic wrap. I think they're interchangeable.
  • Floured the cutters with every cut.
  • Calibrated my oven to +20 degrees.
  • Baked in a cooler oven. 350 instead of 400.
  • Used my oven thermometer to be sure my oven was holding the temperature.
  • Put a pizza stone on the top oven rack while baking . . . This was a big ol' "doh" moment. If you read my post about calibrating the oven, I thought I'd need a third oven rack to use the pizza stone. Wrong! I put one rack at the top of the oven - pizza stone on top, oven thermometer hanging from it. The other rack was in the middle of the oven - just below the dangling thermometer. This is the one that I baked the cookies on. Could the pizza stone have helped with cold/hot spots and keeping my oven's temperature up? Maybe.

Maybe all of that's over-kill and I can do without some of the above steps. Just maybe I can remove only one variable at a time (like flouring the cutters) and I'll still achieve the wondrous state of non-spreading cookies.

I wish I knew for sure exactly what it was that made these cookies turn out this way. I'm betting that as I bake new batches, and possibly omit some of the above tips, I'll get a clearer picture.

Here's what I didn't worry about with this batch that I thought might cause spreading. . .

  • I didn't worry about over-crowding the pans. I baked 6 medium cookies per sheet or 8 smaller cookies. No problems.
  • I didn't worry about re-rolling. There was no difference between the cookies that had been re-rolled and the ones that hadn't. Actually there was no difference in the spreading. I did see some raised bumps on a few of the cookies that had been re-rolled. I think that had to do with using flour in the rolling and not kneading it back together fully. The bumps were like a flaky layer that raised during baking. Not a big deal to me. I'll take that over spreading any day.

Did I mention that I'm thrilled beyond belief?

So thrilled that I just HAD to show you each and every cookie in this batch?

Do you have spreading issues? If so, I hope that some of these tips will help you!

Edit: I JUST thought of something else different that I did with this batch. I used fresh dough. Often times I'll freeze my cut out shapes. In fact, lately I've been doing that a lot. I wonder if using frozen/defrosted in the fridge dough makes any difference. Experiment time again? You bet!

And one more thing...I just noticed that Bake at 350's sugar cookie recipe specifically calls for *unbleached* flour.

Oy. So many variables!