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Guest Post – Adventures in Sugar Cookie Making

7 Oct

My friend Jess, you’ve heard about her from time to time, decided to try her hand at making some decorated sugar cookies.  I asked her to share her experience.  She didn’t disappoint.  Enjoy!

I’m not a baker.  I’m not a writer either, so please excuse any grammatical errors.

Sadly, my earliest baking memory is junior year of high school when I decided to bake baklava for our school’s Christmas bazaar bake sale.  You would think chocolate chip cookies would have been a good start; but no, I jumped in with both feet and attempted to tackle the Greek delicacy.   Who knew that phyllo dough was flammable?

Fast forward “a few” years, the exact number is not necessary for our purposes, and again I’ve decided to bake cookies for a bake sale.  This one is to benefit our local hospital’s breast cancer center.   I got the brilliant idea to bake sugar cookies in the shape of the cancer ribbon and paint them with pink royal icing.  I figured my baking skills have improved leaps and bounds from my high school days.  This should be a piece of cake.  Wrong.

My adventure of baking said sugar cookies took 8, yes I repeat, 8 hours from start to finish, and I only made 23 cookies with one color of icing.  The 24th cookie didn’t make it.  I tried.

Mind you, I don’t like to read directions and I don’t like to use exact measurements when cooking, both of which are requirements when baking.  This should be interesting.

I gave myself a little pat on the back after successfully making the dough, thinking this can’t be that hard.  Three hours later I took the dough out of the refrigerator for the next step – rolling and shaping the cookies.  After pounding on a solid brick of dough for about fifteen minutes, I decided I needed to make a call.  And so begins my barrage of phone calls to Kristina’s Confections (I have an inside connection) for help.  Kristina informs me I have to let it sit at room temperature to soften.

Now it’s time to cut the cookies.  Some end up too thin and fall apart.  Others are so thick you need a knife and fork to eat them.  But I’m crunched for time and working during my son’s naptime.  And so we continue.

During my second or third phone call (I lost count), Kristina informed me that she puts her cookies in the freezer on the baking sheet for about five minutes to allow the dough to harden a bit so they don’t spread while baking.  It helps to actually remember that you put the cookies in the freezer.  Fifteen minutes later I check the oven to find it empty and I’m left wondering where in the hell did the cookies go?  This is what happens after childbirth – memory is the first thing to go.

After baking the cookies, it is advisable to let them cool on the cookie sheet before transferring them to the cooling rack.  It would have been nice to know that before I started moving them.  Did I mention I’m impatient too?  After the third cookie bit the dust I decided I probably should just let them cool.

Moving onto icing.  If I thought I had flour all over my kitchen when I was making the dough, that was nothing compared to the icing.  It was everywhere.  I had some in my hair, on every counter, and I think I even found some pink icing on my dog’s tail.  And trust me when they say a little gel coloring goes a long way.  Thankfully, Kristina told me that before I started coloring the icing, otherwise I would have dumped in half the bottle and ended up with florescent pink cookies.

I’ve never used a pastry bag and I had no idea what a coupler was, and, as I said before, I don’t like to read instructions.  So I fumbled with the pastry tools for a while before figuring it all out.  Be careful with those couplers, they can be slippery little suckers.  If you’ve ever seen Pretty Woman you know what I’m talking about.  I did that with the coupler, right into the mixer full of icing.  It’s hard to find those things when they blend in so well with white icing.

Now that I have the tools figured out, it’s time to scoop the icing into the pastry bag.  There is no simple way to do this without making a mess, hence the icing on my dog’s tail.

At this point my son has awoken from his nap and is with me playing in the kitchen.  About five minutes into icing he starts crying.  Sorry kiddo mommy’s baking, you’re just going to have to wait.  Crying turns into screaming and I continue to try to talk over him to soothe him.  My talking loudly in a sing-songy voice prompts my dogs to start barking.  There is mass pandemonium in my kitchen.  It’s not stressful piping two dozen cookies with a screaming baby and two dogs barking in the background.  Needless to say, the lines were not very straight.

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably about thirty minutes of piping and icing, the cookies were complete and yes my kid was still crying, sort of.  I would too if I had to sit in a dirty diaper for thirty minutes.  Apparently, I need to re-evaluate my priorities.

When it was all said and done, I swore I would never attempt that again.  Unless… it’s anything like childbirth and I forget what a torturous ordeal it was and decide to try just one more time.

On second thought, next time I’ll just buy them from Kristina’s Confections.  Her cookies are worth every penny.

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