Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers - Decorated Sugar Cookies


Ahh springtime - when all the flowers awaken from their slumber, the air smells fragrant, the world looks brighter, and the weather gets warmer. Err, wait - in Melbourne, the weather has not got warmer - I am still in my winter coat, and most days are still dreary and grey. It's the coldest September for 23 years (according to Livinia on Nine News), and it has not creeped above 19 degrees Celsius since May (courtesy of Karl on the Today show). The flowers must know something we don't though, because they started to bloom in late August, and my street is now like The Nutcracker Suite with a ballerina-like row of delicate, white flowered bushes in full bloom. This leads me on to the point of this post ...

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.

We had to decorate our cookies according to a "September" theme. As it is spring, and I associate spring with new life - flowers and lambs and butterflies - I chose butterflies. I also had an ulterior motive, as for months, I have had Marian's butterfly cookies on Sweetopia bookmarked, because they are gorgeous. I wanted to make them, but had never gotten around to it. Mandy's choice of challenge gave me the perfect motivation.

I have made sugar cookies in the past, and have been underwhelmed by the taste, as they seemed to be a tasteless vehicle for pretty icing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe - the cookies smelled and tasted wonderful without any icing at all. I did in fact eat a couple of the browner ones without any decoration at all, and really enjoyed them. Sugar cookies are redeemed in my eyes - at least if they are made using the challenge recipe (which is on Mandy's site, for those who are interested). Because the weather is still cool, I had no issues with the cookies sticking and giving me problems at the cutting out stage - which is a huge relief. I rolled and cut out the dough on baking paper rather than using a flour-dusted benchtop, as it is less messy, makes it easier to peel off the cut-out cookies, and means that the dough doesn't absorb extra flour.

Having accomplished the first task without a hitch, it was time to pipe and flood the cookies with the royal icing recipe provided by Mandy. I used dark brown gel colouring to colour royal icing for the outline of the butterflies. It was surprising how much colour I needed to get the shade of brown I wanted:


Next, it was time to flood the outlines with more royal icing in bright colours (as butterflies are bright and beautiful!). While at Preston Market with Elisa, I had picked up some powder colours in red, yellow, green and blue, and these were a God-send for colouring the icing in vibrant, true colours. Red has always been a problem for me in the past, but the powder colour enabled me to achieve a vibrant, nail-polish red colour (albeit using quite a bit of colouring). To pipe, I just made paper piping bags - thanks to Greg at William Angliss for teaching me to make these.

Immediately after flooding the cookies with the base colour, I used the techniques in Marian's butterfly cookie post to add contrasting detail to the cookies. Finally, I sprinkled my butterflies with edible gold disco glitter/fairy dust:


These cookies were lots of work, but I had so much fun making them. And doesn't the end result warrant it - I loved them, and almost didn't want to eat them. However, I remembered how shameful it would be for such wonderful cookies to go to waste, so I took them in to work to share. The ladies loved them - no idea about the blokes, but then again, I wouldn't expect a shed-full of macho engineers to be overly impressed by butterfly cookies.

Thanks to Mandy for hosting Daring Bakers this month. You can check out the truly inspirational creations of the other Daring Bakers by visiting the Daring Bakers blogroll.

43 comments:

Suzler said...

Beautifully decorated cookies. They're so striking!

Honey @ honeyandsoy said...

What pretty, happy butterflies! I chose a Spring theme too, and thankfully the last couple of days have actually looked and felt like Spring! I hope it warms up for you down there in Melbs. I laughed at your comment about sugar cookies being "tasteless vehicles for icing"- I feel the same way that's why I've never made them before! And at home we are not big fans of icing so I left most of my cookies un-iced and gave away most of the iced ones! I may be responsible for the neighbours' kids' sugar high tho :D

Phuoc'n Delicious said...

Ooooo I love butterflies and these cookies look awesome! I hope Melb warms up for you down there..

Pamela said...

Those are absolutely stunning!

Johanna GGG said...

these look beautiful - I love the bright colours - I have found that powder is so much stronger than drops but I have never managed to get such stunning colours. That red is amazing!

am also swayed by your talk of how good the sugar cookie recipe was - I don't make them as I never like the taste but maybe I need to try this recipe

chef_d said...

Love the vibrant colors of your butterfly cookies!

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

They may be a lot of work but they certainly look worth the effort! Beautifully done!

Renata said...

You did such a beautiful work on your butterflies! They're stunning!

The Caked Crusader said...

Love the butterflies - love how you've blended colours but they've all remained distinct.

Particularly love that bottom orange one!

fuzzytimes said...

I love the butterflies! I wish we were heading into Spring here too - I need more sunshine! Great challenge and thanks for stopping by my blog x

Heather said...

They looks super delicious! Yummmmy!!!!!

Marcellina said...

Gorgeous cookies! Yes, the colour you were able to get are really vivid! How lucky are you!

Aparna said...

They are a bit of work, but your cookies are so pretty, I know they were worth it.

Gloria said...

Your butterflies are awesome and beauty! I love them!! Congrats Caker law! x Gloria

Mary said...

Beautiful butterflies--love the designs and the glitter! I was really surprised how much colouring I needed too. Only 7 months or so before I see some butterflies here...
:)

Tracy said...

Such colorful cookies! Wonderful job on the challenge!

Jeanne said...

You've used so many gorgeous colors for the butterflies! I've got the exact opposite weather problem - it's supposed to be fall here, but the temperature is still 100°F! Ugh. I'll send some of this warm weather your way!

zita said...

I'm sure with butterfly cookies like those even macho blokes would be impressed :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What pretty cookies! Those butterflies are lovely.

Cheers,

Rosa

Heavenly Housewife said...

Wow, you've done an amazing job, these are so pretty :D. I've never tried cookie decorating, its always been a little intimidating to me.
*kisses* HH

Miss Nirvana said...

They look great!

Koci said...

These butterfly cookies are so pretty! I love that you used edible glitter! They look **almost** too good to eat. :D

Christina said...

Cute butterflies!

The Betz Family said...

Your butterflies are beautiful! The contrasting colors really stand out against each other. Nice job on the challenge!

The Blonde Duck said...

BUTTERFLIES!!!!!!!!!!

Tammy said...

your biscuits look beautiful. you must be so pleased with them!

SteelCityFlan said...

Just incredible! Great job on these :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

These are perfect! I love how colourful you made them-just like real butterflies! They look like they could take flight off the plate! :D

Jennifer said...

Those are positively gorgeous, Gaye!!!!!

Deeba PAB said...

Those are some gorgeous butterflies my dear! Ooooooh they must have been fun to make. I love the colour palette you chose and how inspired these are. Was a fun challenge ... you pretty winged creatures look like they're ready to take of!! Lovely!

Cath said...

Good old melbourne weather!!!! Beautiful and sunny one day and back to winter chills the next!! Your beautiful butterflies look spectacular!!!

Tia said...

simply beautiful - delicate and intricate. nice job!

shaz said...

Oh they are so beautiful. Good on you for aking the time to craft them to perfection. I would have loved one too, but I'd have probably kept it for awhile before forcing myself to eat it :)

Barbara Bakes said...

Great job! They definitely look too pretty to eat!

Danielle said...

Those cookies are so pretty! They look like a lot of work, but in the end it turned out great!

Sirius73 said...

Uuuuhhh... Nice butterflies! :-)

Renuka said...

love your butterflies and love your colors...beautiful cookies.I found your site through daring bakers.

www.cuminandcardamom.blogspot.com

Brenda said...

These are gorgeous!! So bright and cheerful. I hope it brings on the warmer weather soon : )
Yay for Spring!!!!

jillbert said...

They are beautiful! I like the intense colors!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

When I first read this I thought to myself "Spring? Does she not know it's October?" and then I remembered you lived in Australia...haha. Great cookies and perfect Spring time design :)

Baker at Law said...

Your butterflies are beautiful! I love your use of dark, vivid colors a well. I always skimp on the color gel and end up with pastels :-( Great challenge!

natalia said...

Ciao ! Wow you made the most wonderful butterflies ! I love all of them !

Rachel@Tasty Thailand said...

Those cookies are absolutely lovely. You did a great job!