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 have never been a fan of sugar cookies, but I am a huge fan of decorated ones. I was so excited when this challenge was issued. I haven't had a lot of practice with royal icing and this was a great way to get me started. It does take a bit of time, and as we all know I have so much of that lying around.
We were to make cookies that represented what September meant to us. Well September is so many things. Back to school, the beginning of autumn, Dad's birthday, hunting season and of course football. I had to break out my beaver cookie cutter and make some game day treats for the boys. They were cute and the boys loved them. I had a few extra lying around that I didn't need to eat so I sent them to Mom's work, and a few to a couple of friends of ours who have some Beaver believers too.
Here are the recipes that were part of the challenge.
Basic Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
3 cups + 3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy in texture. Then beat in egg until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms. Scrap down the bowl as needed. Then knead into a ball and divide into 2-3 pieces. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut out shapes and then put on baking sheet and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 and bake until golden brown around the edges 8-15 minutes. Leave to cool on cooling racks and let cool completely before decorating.
2 1/2 -3 cups of powdered sugar
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract (I used vanilla)
Beat egg whites, lemon juice, and flavoring until just combined. Sift the sugar to remove lumps and add to the egg whites. Beat on low until combined and smooth. Use immediately or keen in an airtight container.
To decorate Cookies:
Take part of your royal icing and make it a bit thicker. Then pipe along the outside of your cookie. It is best to use a piping bag fitted with a #2 or 3 tip. Let it set. Then take more icing and if it is not thin enough to run add a bit of water to it. "Flood" the cookies with the thinned icing and let set until firm. You will know that your icing is the correct consistency when it spreads in 5-10 seconds.
The amount of water and sugar you will need really depends on the weather. I know that sounds funny, but it is true. I had to mess with mine quite a bit before it was right. If it is to thin add more sugar to thick add a little water.
Have a great time and enjoy!!