With all my new free time, I’ve been doing a lot more baking! I made these hummingbird cookies just because I had a hummingbird cookie cutter. I decided to do a stained glass style, by piping black outlines and then filling in the gaps with coloured icing. I did a few flowers as well. I had some problems with “cratering”, where the icing collapses as it dries in small areas. Although I’m not sure why it happens, I followed the advice online and started drying them in front of a fan, which seemed to solve the problem (see the top right hummingbird, which dried in front of the fan, versus the one below it, which didn’t).
Anyway, I’m quite happy with them! Expect more posts in the near future since I’m on a four-month vacation!
Friday was a big milestone for me – the last class of my degree! I still have final exams and a project to finish, but I’m getting closer! I decided to bake cookies this weekend and give them to one of my professors as a thank-you for his help. I was inspired by these colourful cookies but had a frustrating time trying to reproduce them. I don’t have a cookie stencil, so I was trying to get the same effect with piping, but the geometric designs just looked kind of messy free-hand. I decided to go with simpler designs mostly made up of dots.
I got the cute cookie box and ribbon from a neat craft supply store called Urban Source. They have tons of cute boxes and bags like this that are perfect for giving away baking, and I had a lot of fun picking them out! The box fits two cookies stacked, so I included the two below.
I had a lot of ideas for Christmas cookies this year since it’s the first year I’ve gotten really into decorating cookies. I decided that all my ideas would go nicely as a group, since they were all forest-themed. The design for the trees and birds are from this post on sweetsugarbelle’s blog, and I had seen the pine cones here. I also made some snowflakes as part of a present for my dad (see below). I wanted the background colour of the snowflakes to be dark to contrast with the icing, but I’m not particularly into gingerbread cookies. Then I remembered saving sweetapolita’s chocolate sugar cookie recipe, and it seemed like the perfect solution. I’m not sure how I feel about the recipe – the re-rolled cookies seemed a little tough, and I’m not sure if I got the baking time quite right since it was hard to tell from the appearance whether they were done. I might experiment with it a bit more or try a new recipe.
For my birthday this year, my awesome mother got me a ton of new baking supplies, including a box full of cookie cutters. One of those was a dragon shape, so this weekend I decided to take a break from studying and school projects and make some dragons.
You can see there’s a little bit of “cratering” on the limbs of the red dragons. According to sweetsugarbelle’s blog this might be due to the icing being too thin. I don’t know exactly why that happened with the red icing and not the green, but oh well! I think they look pretty cool anyway.
While making butterfly cookies for my sister’s wedding a few weeks ago, I was a little overambitious and decided to do flowers as well. So, in addition to all the butterflies, I baked a bunch of flower- and circle-shaped sugar cookies (I planned to make the circles into dahlias). When I got to the decorating phase, I got really into the butterflies and never made it to the flowers. The flower and circle cookies sat in a tin until now, when I decided to stop eating them plain and actually decorate them.
I’ve been staring at brush embroidery cookies for a few months now, specifically the beautiful ones made by sweetambs. These cookies are my first attempt.
I definitely learned a few things while making these. Here are my tips to myself for next time:
- Use a smaller tip (probably #2) for outlining, and be more careful outlining to get better circles and not have a weird bump where the circle joins
- Use thicker icing to flood – these took quite a while to dry
- Use thicker icing and a stiffer brush for the brush embroidery – mine didn’t have much definition, and when I tried to do the inner layers of petals, they tended to merge a bit with the outer layers
All in all, I am happy with these! Next time I might try a light background with more colourful flowers… for example doing outer and inner layers of petals with two different shades. I’d also like to experiment with patterns other than flowers. This time, I also tried a feather, which worked out reasonably well, a bird (not so much), and a couple of more abstract designs. These are the more experimental ones (without the bird):
I made these cookies as a dessert for my sister’s wedding. On the weekend before the wedding, I baked a large batch of sugar cookies using two different butterfly cutters I had gotten in a kitchen store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. One was a fairly standard butterfly shape and the other was more moth-like. Once the cookies were out, I made a batch of royal icing, mixed up nine different bowls of icing with gel food colouring, filled up nine different disposable piping bags, and went at it.
I used what is usually called twenty second icing – royal icing thinned with water to the point where it will flow a bit, but not run off the edge of the cookie. I did a test batch of butterflies a couple weeks beforehand and found that, since I wanted to do so many colours, having both piping and flooding consistency icings was too much of a hassle. I was able to make neat patterns with this icing just by piping the different colours against or onto each other while still wet, so that they flowed together. Although I couldn’t get the shapes as precise without outlining, I kind of like the more natural shapes that happened, and I dragged a toothpick through some designs for pointed effects. I didn’t use any piping tips simply because I didn’t have enough plain round ones… they might have helped a bit and prevented some mistakes, but I managed all right just by cutting off the ends of the bags.
My inspiration for the designs came from this artwork:
I used it to decide on the colours, and for some cookies (like the one below), I actually tried to recreate the design.
One problem I faced was with the red icing. As you might be able to see in the photo above, it had a different texture than the other colours and went crumbly when it dried. From what I’ve read on other blogs, it seems that this is probably caused by the large amount of food colouring that was required to get the deep red, either directly, or because of the amount of mixing I did while trying to add a little food colouring at a time. I’ll try red again at some point and see if I can get better results. Anyway, I dealt with these ones just by touching them as little as possible before they were served.
The cookies were a hit on the dessert table beside the cake and eaten up before I got to grab one. Good thing there were a few failures to snack on during the process!
Photo credits: Georgia Russell