Monday, September 27, 2010

September 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge - Decorated Sugar Cookies!

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.

This month Mandy from What the Fruitcake?! challenge us to make sugar cookies but not with a few random squiggles and dots she was talking about beautifully decorated cookies that are given as a gift, made for a party or given as wedding favours. Wow! What a challenge! Honestly I thought sugar cookies simply had sugar sprinkled on top! Yeah, I know, I must have been living under a rock or something to not have noticed the many blogs and sites dedicated to this wonderful creation! In Australia, we don't have a cookie tradition as such so it's not something that is easy to come by particularly living in rural areas. that I know..... I will never stop decorating sugar cookies.

Before I started I checked out some sites like this one and especially this one that Mandy recommended because I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. Was I blown away? These cookies are almost too good to eat. Truely works of art! I knew I was out of my league but I fell back on my cake decorating knowledge and the equipment I had.

Another specification for this challenge was that it should show what September represents to us. For many in the Northern hemisphere that was Fall (Autumn, to us Aussies) or in the Southern hemisphere Spring. For me, I thought of Father's Day which in Australia falls on the first Sunday of September. 

The recipe given had no baking powder which meant the cookies didn't alter in shape during baking but it was delicious and tasty.

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.
• 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.

Now to decorate! If you've had a peak at the two sites I linked above you will now have heaps of ideas. Since I was doing Father's Day Cookies I limited my colours to blue, green, yellow and white which I knew were favourites. I used packaged fondant and coloured small portions with the desired shades. I also made up half the quantity of royal icing, divided it into four bowls and coloured each portion in my chosen colours.

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.

Using extra sifted pure icing sugar for dusting, I rolled out the coloured fondant one piece at a time and cut shapes to fit my cookies. I used the cutter a size smaller so that I had the edge of the cookies showing. You could use the exact cutter to cut the fondant for a different effect.

 Also many decorated sugar cookies use royal icing not fondant and the flooding technique which you can follow part 1, here and part 2, here. It is easy to stick the fondant on the cookie by brushing the cookie with corn syrup. Then I used different colour and icing tubes to create messages and effects on each cookie. Once dry, each cookie was brushed with edible shimmer dust.

My husband,

 father and father-in-law

 were the lucky recipients of the cookies and were all thrilled with their cookies and their special messages of love.

This was a fabulous challenge which I loved very much and I know there are many more decorated sugar cookies to come out of my kitchen. I'm not sure I will ever be able to produce such beautiful cookies as some of my fellow Daring Bakers but I'll keep trying. Thanks Mandy for a fantastic challenge! You really should see the cookies at Mary Mary Culinary, Bubble and Sweet and Happy Cook plus more Daring Bakers cookies.


  1. Sigh Marcellina - they are such beautiful cookies! I love how nicely decorated yours are. The recepients of these cookies must have been thrilled!
    Again, well done on the DBC challenge.

  2. Gosh, the men in your family must've loved this month's challenge! Your cookies have come out really nice and the lettering and piping work is pro! Well done!

  3. Beautiful cookies. Nicely decorated! The dad must be a proud cookie!

  4. Absolutely beautiful! Wonderful job on the challenge. :) Thanks for sharing! Can't wait til tomorrow when I can post mine. :)

  5. Your father's day cookies are gorgeous! I saw them in the forum and I loved the colors you used!

  6. These look great Marcellina - a perfect Fathers Day treat.

  7. Wow - those look amazing. I love the extra touch that the shimmer powder adds. All of the dads in your life are certainly lucky to have been celebrated with such beautiful (not to mention tasty!) treats!! Truly fantastic job.

  8. Your cookies are gorgeous! I need to invest in some new cookie cutters - I love those stars! Great challenge!

  9. Those cookies are really great. I'm completely amazed that it's your first try and you didn't even know what a sugar cookie was. Lovely work

  10. Aww! What a lovely idea!! And the recipients must have felt really special :)


  11. YOur cookies are so pretty and your Dad must have been so happy to see them. YOu definitely should continue making these cookies.

  12. These are such beautiful sugar cookies! Your decorating skills are amazing, and I think you have much more patience with it than me! Thanks so much for the link, and I'm looking forward to lots more sugar cookies from you.

  13. oh, they are so cute! I made my dad gingerbread men for father's day - I didn't even think of this challenge, whoops! How amazing were those sites provided for inspiration? I would feel bad eating some of those biscuits!

  14. Nice piping/writing! I might have to make these for fathers day next year. :)

  15. Wonderful cookies! Great writing on them, and love the sparkles!

  16. Aww... love the pastel and gliterry colours you used, your Dad must be so impressed :)

  17. I love your cookies! They look so pretty! I am late for this challenge, but am still planning on completing it. I'll take full advantage of my one week grace period. ;) I've never decorated cookies so I am afraid I don't have such a firm and steady hand to be able to write and draw on it. ;) You did a wonderful job.

  18. Beautiful cookies! Wonderful job on the challenge!

  19. Great idea and I bet you brought a tear of joy to your dad with these cookies. Beautiful job.

  20. My husband is Italian so our daughter has nonno and nonna so I instantly drawn to your little cookies. The colour scheme you've chosen is great.

  21. Gorgeous cookies! So beautiful decorated & a fantastic idea to make them for father's day. All those lucky dads - they must have been thrilled.

    I always thought sugar cookies were just cookies with sugar sprinkled on them too. :D

  22. You really outdid yourself, these cookies are just gorgeous! I'm really glad that you had so much fun with this challenge and that you've enjoyed making sugar cookies. They're not the fanciest biscuits around, but definitely great as a canvas!

    Thanks for taking part of the challenge, I'm really blown away by your gorgeous creations :) (and the recipients of them were very lucky!)

  23. What beautiful cookies! I love these!!

  24. Drop dead gorgeous my friend, these are truly beautiful. Love your choice of colours, perfect flooding and the attention to detail! Fabulous work!

  25. They look really great. Good job on the challenge :)

  26. Your cookies look great! I am also a convert to the decorated cookies phenomenon - I think I will be driving my family and friends nuts with making these for EVERY occasion!!!LOL!

  27. Thank you for your lovely comment :) It took me about 2 days to decorate them all.
    When I see your wonderful cookies I just wish the Father's Day was celebrated in our country, too. Your dad and husband must have been very happy and are happy for having someone like you who loves them so much :)

  28. Happy Father's Day! These cookies are so cute.... happened that I also dedicate my cookies to my Dad :-)

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  29. Great cookies! You must have a really steady hand! I could never do such fine and exact lines.

  30. I want to become a man (and a father) just to get one of those :-) Lovely decoration, you did a wonderful job!!

  31. I love these cookies, I must make some for my dad...dads are special !!!! I found your site through daring bakers.

  32. What adorable cookies! Your dad and father-in-law are lucky men!

  33. Great job, as always. I really enjoyed looking at your photos.

  34. Very, very beautiful job Marcellina. Gosh you're patient! Bet they went down a treat :)

  35. Marcellina, your cookies were some of the first posted in the DK forum, and my first thought was 'I will never achieve that perfection with royal icing decor'. I didn't, but I LOVE looking at beautiful and perfect!

  36. Such beautiful cookies. You have really steady hands!

  37. I am really pleased that you thought my cookies were looking so good.
    Your cookies look beautiful too. And so many you made. I didn't know fathers day was in September in Australia.Thankyou for addingt he link.

  38. I love your blog. This recipe looks soo good!! I am your newest follower!

  39. Nice work and such neatly piped writing too. The colour combos work well.

  40. Your cookies are so impressive. I'm amazed you've never done them before! They look so perfect.


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