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Monday, September 27, 2010

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Ooooomm cookies - my first icing attempt to celebrate the end of my yoga teacher training.
The Daring Bakers September 2010 Challenge by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?! with small additions

Taste 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty 2 (out of 5) 

For the cookies
- 200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature (1435 cal)
- 400g all purpose flour (1455 cal)
- 200g sugar (775 cal)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten (70 cal)
- 1 tsp / 5 ml vanilla extract (10 cal)
- 1 tsp ground orange zest 
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract (5 cal)
For the icing
- 3/4 cup confectioner’s / powdered sugar (350 cal)
- 1/2 large egg whites (10 cal)
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp lemon extract
- 2-3 drops of beet juice for coloring
Total 4110 cal, 40 cookies, 100 cal / cookie
For the cookies
1. Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavorings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture. Don’t over mix, otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.
2. 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.
3. Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
4. Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5 mm / 0.2 inch
5. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 mins.
6. Once chilled, peel off the upper parchment (it can be used to line the baking sheet).
7. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
8. Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30 mins to an hour. It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
9. Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
10. Preheat oven to 180C  / 350F . Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15 mins depending on the size of the cookies. Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
11. Leave to cool on cooling racks. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired. If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, undecorated
cookies can last up to a month.
For the icing
12. Beat egg white with lemon juice until combined. It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and grease free.
13. Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites. 
14. Beat on low until combined and smooth.
15. You might need to adjust the amount of icing sugar - use more for writing and less for flooding. To thin the icing add a few drops of water at a time until you reach the consistency you need. For writing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10. If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency. 
16. Add the coloring, just a few drops with a fork or a toothpick. Since I used a liquid (juice) to color, I had to add a little more confectioner’s sugar to thicken the icing.
17. Use immediately or keep in an airtight container. 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.
18. Fit the piping bag with a size 1 or 2 tip for writing. Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to write.
19. Once fully decorated, allow cookies to dry for 24 hours in a cool and dry area.  Stack cookies in an airtight container, with parchment or wax free paper in between the layers. Store in a cool and dry area with the container’s lid firmly sealed. Will last for about a month if stored this way.
- Very nice cookies. I followed the instructions with the rolling, and I am not quite convinced that it’s easier to roll the dough, refrigerate, cut, refrigerate, etc. I think it might be still ok to just roll the dough without the parchment paper, cut it, and refrigerate it when already cut right on the cooking sheet while the oven preheats. I guess I’ll try that next time. 
- I did not have tip 1, and found it a little clumsy to write with tip 2, but this was my first icing attempts, so maybe that’s the real reason that the cookies don’t look too fancy.
Blog-checking lines
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.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple Butter

Well, not really a butter, more like a baby food ;-), but absolutely yummy for the young and the young at heart :-P
The Daring Cooks September 2010 Challenge by by John of Eat4Fun with small adjustments
Taste 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty 2 (out of 5)
- 1.2 kg apples makes about 1 kg after peeling and coring (480 cal)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (205 cal)
- 1 tsp ground orange peel
- 1 tsp lemon concentrate
Total 685 cal, 400 g apple butter, 25 cal / tablespoon
1. Wash apples well and remove stems. Cut apples into quarters or eighths and remove cores and peel.
2. Cook the peeled apples slowly in a large saucepan. Use enough water to cover the apples and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).
3. Drain water from the pot, add the sugar, the orange peel and the lemon concentrate to the saucepan. and mash the apples. It is very easily done using an immersion blender. 
4. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. This process can take about 2 hours. When cooking down the apples, you want to leave the lid ajar or use a splatter screen. This will allow for evaporation. Another trick is to support the lid by laying two wooden spoons across the top of the pot.
5. To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.
6. Pour contents into desired storage container or multiple containers. 

- Loved the butter - it’s perfect as a spread, especially on my beloved apple bread
- When I drained the water from cooked apples I saved it, and used for chili :-). It could also be great for the dough of the apple bread.
Blog-checking lines: The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

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