A mom friend of mine from my daughter’s school asked if I would make cookies for the school’s Diwali festival. Three hundred cookies, actually. Now, normally, I only bake for my family but I was studying for my board recertification and something in me just craved the intensity of a big baking project. Baking 300 cookies is no small task but on the second baking day I alighted on my “perfect formula” for making sugar cookies from which I will never stray. Here are my steps and the recipe is down below.
I then take out one sheet of dough at a time, cut out the cookies, and put them straight into the oven. I don’t give them any time to warm up. In fact, if they soften at all while I’m cutting them out I will put the pan of cookies into the fridge again for 1bout 15 minutes until they are firm.
I only re-roll the dough scraps once. Trust me I tried to be thrifty and re-roll the scraps more than once but I was not pleased with the results. When I re-roll the scraps I again use the dowels and mark the parchment paper with two tick marks signifying that it is the end of the line for this dough sheet then stick the sheet back in the fridge to firm up again before cutting.
I’ve experimented with different royal icing consistencies and found that I am most comfortable with a 15-second flood icing. I outline and flood right away. For the cookies with just one background color I’ll use a #3 tip to go faster. For multiple background colors like the flag cookies I’ll use a #2 tip for better control. I’ll then use a medium consistency icing with a #1 tip for the details. For me, a medium consistency icing still holds soft peaks when you run a spatula through it but the surface will eventually smooth out. To check this, I will rap the bowl a few times on the counter and see if it smooths out. I know, it’s not a perfect scientific method but it’s about a 30-second icing.
If you have time you can flood the cookies and add the details all in the same day. You just have to give the flood icing a couple of hours to set before piping the details. Then let the cookies set overnight for the icing to harden completely. I check this by tapping on the icing. If I don’t leave any indents then I’m good to wrap them up. Once they’re wrapped up — especially if you use a heat sealer — they’re good for a couple of weeks.
Placing a fan in front of freshly iced cookies helps retain their shine as they dry. The difference between air-dried and fan-dried cookies is slight (and unrecognizable to DH) but I could tell the difference.
- Amber Spiegel has a fantastic cookie decorating course on
Perfect Sugar Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (8 oz)
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsps almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
Sift together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer with flat beater or with a hand mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg and mix until combined. Add flavorings. Gradually blend in flour on low speed just until flour is completely incorporated. Do not overmix once you add the flour. Scoop out immediately and roll out into dough sheets as above or wrap in cling wrap and a ziploc bag and chill for 2 hours. Work with a half batch at a time.
You can also store it in the freezer until ready to use. When ready to use, thaw overnight in fridge.
Bake on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats at 375F for 12-14 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden.0.1http://thecakedr.com/cookies/my-formula-for-perfect-sugar-cookies-and-300-diwali-cookies/