Thursday, 18 March 2010
A Royal Icing Romp
You may remember that I made and decorated some sugar cookies for Valentine's Day. They were part of my next experiment into cake decorating - royal icing. I've had fun with fondant for a couple of weekends now, but I wanted to work on my piping skills. While I know I could just make a batch of icing and practice my figures on baking paper, making cookies is much more fun!
For Valentine's Day, D bought me a lovely cookie and cake decorating set from Chalet. I had every intention of trying it out, but I had split my royal icing into eight small bowls so I could play with different colours and the plastic bottles didn't work with such a small amount of icing. I had all my gadgets out and ready, but in the end I used one disposable piping bag which I washed out in between colours.
The cookies were super simple to make and lovely and easy to roll out. I put the dough in the fridge overnight and just let him soften slightly before rolling it out. It was a very hot and humid day though, and I could only roll out the dough twice before it got too soft to work with and I had to put it back in the fridge.
I also found out the all of my cookie cutters are of the cute for bento variety and were far too small for what I wanted to do, so I broke out the lovely set of Christmas cookie cutters given to me by D's mother at Christmas and tried to find the least Christmassy looking ones. I also discovered a heart cutter, a gingerbread man and a teddy bear. Rather fortuitously, as I was making these on Valentine's Day, the heart cutter was the easiest to work with, so I decided that I should just go with the hype and make pretty pink ones.
It was great way to practice. I started with reasonably thick icing, it really needed to be watered down before you could even pipe with it, but it was good because I learned how much water to add to get it to the consistency I needed for the edges and then the consistency for filling. Plus the more cookies I decorated the better I got, I saw how close to hold the piping bag to the cookie and how much pressure to apply. I was so brave I even tried some letters!!
D likes it when I bake new things, because he gets to eat the things that don't work out. I made him a special cookie with his name on it.
Next up is to get more adventurous with the royal icing. I have a second cake decorating book now which has some great techniques for working with royal icing, and some pretty cool stuff too.
Ideal Sugar Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
113g unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, milk and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Decorate with Royal Icing.
from Nigella Feasts by Nigella Lawson
2 egg whites
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine the egg whites and icing sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach your desired consistency.