Daring Bakers do Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies!  I haven’t made these in a long time, not since this post in March.  I have a recipe that I like a lot, but I have never iced them.  Icing and frosting or whatever you want to call it, is just not my forte – it’s a bit intimidating.  So I decided that I had to do this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge so that I would force myself to learn how to use it.

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.

In preparation for this big feat, I emailed my friend S. of The Cookie Cutters fame as she is an expert in the cookie decorating field.  I know that the challenge was to use royal icing, but I wanted to try using fondant, something that I have never used before.

The necessary tools - 100 cookie cutters!

Conveniently the Little Rocker’s birthday was on September 15th, sheturned two years old!  So I decided to make these cookies for the birthday party that we were hosting over the Sukkoth holiday.  As we were at the grandparents’ we are doing the party in their Sukkah.  Check it out:

Sukkah entrance
Inside the Sukkah - the Little Rocker helped me make some of the chains that are hanging from the roof.

So I spent a three nights making these cookies – one night to bake, one night to cover in fondant and one night to add the details.  My darling daughter is obsessed with Elmo and Sesame Street, so I made Elmo and Big Bird cookies (if you use your imagination a little – but isn’t that what Sesame Street is all about – oh wait, that’s Barney).

The Little Rocker helps roll out the dough.

I got the Elmo one more or less down, until I realized that I didn’t have anything to make his fur look fluffy.  It was already 11:30 at night, and I just did not have the energy to make another batch of royal icing to make little tufts of “fur”, so Elmo has lost someof his hair.  The Big Birds were okay until I remembered that Big Bird has a yellow beak and not an orange one…

Rolling out the fondant

I ended up using fondant for the eyes, noses and Big Bird’s mouth, because I thought it would be easier, and I only used the royal icing for Elmo’s mouth and the pupils in the eyes – it definitely added.

Eyes on the cookies

Oh well,  the Little Rocker knew right away that they were supposed to be and as soon as she saw them she said “Elmo!” Okay that was after she said “Cookie!!”

Royal Icing
Don't they look just like Elmo and Big Bird? 😉

We are having a bunch of people over this afternoon to celebrate – pizza, Elmo cake, the whole kit and kaboodle.  Hope she enjoys!

Elmo! (Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, bad lighting!)

Here is the recipe from the Daring Baker’s site:

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4″ Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:

315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ – 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional


• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.