Professional Sugar Cookie Decorating Tips
Cookie decorating, like cake decorating, is an art form that can be eaten. Though the size of the canvas is limited, the end result is often breathtaking. Example cookies with intricate piping can be found in bakery windows or given out as party favors at special events. Decorated cookies, such as these Marbled Heart Cookies, are a party host favorite due to their versatility and adaptability.
With endless possibilities, cookie decorating is a skill that's well worth developing. For three years, I was the bakery's head cookie decorator, and now I'm here to teach you everything you need to know to get started: the tools, the techniques, the lingo. You'll be able to bake cookies at home like a pro before you know it. In order to decorate cookies, you'll need two things to start with: sugar cookies and royal icing.
Due to their firmness and ability to retain their shape after baking, sugar cookies are frequently used as a decorating medium. It's best to use a sugar cookie recipe that is closer in texture to shortbread than a soft, chewy cookie when making decorated cookies. Dough that is too short tends to crumble and fall apart, while dough that is too long struggles to maintain its shape. At the heart of our recipe for Easy Sugar Cookies are butter and sugar in equal measure.
Once your dough is made, put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. As the butter inside the dough softens, the cookies will spread and lose their shape in the oven, so it's important to keep the dough as cold as possible throughout the rolling process. The dough should be rolled out to an even thickness (we suggest 1/4 inch; don't be afraid to use a ruler). If your cookie dough isn't uniform in thickness, the cookies will bake at different rates and their surfaces will be too sloped for piping.
These easy, buttery cookies not only taste fantastic, but can be shaped into anything from pumpkins to snowflakes to hearts to stars. Using cookie cutters is a must for a clean cut and uniform thickness. However, you can also use homemade stencils and a small paring knife to cut cookies into the shape you want if you don't have the appropriate cookie cutter. You can make your own cookie cutters by using a thick piece of paper as a stencil and a paring knife to cut out the desired shape from sugar cookie dough. Smooth the dough's edges with your fingers. When time is of the essence, this method can suffice in place of cookie cutters.
If you want the royal icing to stick, you need to wait until the sugar cookies have cooled completely.
Three parts powdered sugar to one part meringue powder is the basis of our standard royal icing recipe. The icing's foundation is powdered sugar, and meringue powder provides body and shine. Keeping this proportion in mind makes it simple to adjust the recipe for a larger or smaller amount of cookies. After that, flavorings like vanilla and almond extracts are added, and the icing is thinned with warm water.
VIDEO: A Guide to Making Royal Icing
Royal icing has a lot of potential for disaster, despite the simplicity of the recipe. Powdered sugar should be sifted to eliminate any lumps that could cause icing to harden and cause piping bags to become unusable. Too much water is the most typical culprit, resulting in runny icing that can't be piped. To avoid overmixing, add the water gradually and wait for it to absorb completely before adding more. Icing can be thickened by adding more powdered sugar and meringue powder in the right proportions if too much water is added.
Although our basic Royal Icing recipe calls for 1/2 cup of water, you may find that you need more or less depending on the consistency you're going for.
For cookie decorating, you can use either piping- or flooding-consistency royal icing, depending on your preference. Icing of piping consistency is used for outlining and decorating cookies, while icing of flooding consistency is used to cover larger areas. The quantity of water used is the sole determinant in flavor between the two frostings. Less water (about 1/2 cup) is needed to achieve a piping consistency when making icing. If you want your icing to have a flooding consistency, add another 2–3 tablespoons of water.
- When searching for icing with the right consistency for piping, you should aim for a glossy variety that forms soft peaks when whipped with a mixer's whisk attachment. The icing should recover its original shape within 20 to 30 seconds after being scored with a knife.
- Looking for icing that is more liquid and drips off the spoon quickly (looser than soft peaks but still able to hold its shape) is what you want for flooding-consistency icing. A line cut into the icing with a knife should be restored in about 10 seconds.
How to Make a Flood of Icing for Sugar Cookies - VIEW NOW
It's smart to get your various icing colors and textures ready before you start decorating. Both tipless and metal-tipped piping bags are available. You can pipe any size you like with a tipless piping bag and a pair of scissors. These are great for drawing extremely fine lines, but piping bags with metal tips are better for maintaining a consistent width when piping. When decorating cookies, round tips ranging in size from #1 (the smallest opening) to #5 (the largest opening) are commonly used. Cookie decorating necessitates the use of a round tip, but other shapes are available (the open star shape is useful in making flowers, and others make designs like basket-weave or leaves) for decorative flair. When piping, a tip size of 1 or 2 is recommended because it produces the thinnest lines.
Metal tips are unnecessary when flooding because you are more concerned with covering an area than drawing fine lines. Make a tiny hole in the corner of the disposable piping bag (about 1/8 inch in diameter) and pipe directly onto the cookie.
Cool the cookies completely before decorating them. Common cookie designs involve an outline and flood, followed by drying time of two to three hours before piping additional details. (I will make an exception for the wet-on-wet icing method, which I will explain below.) )
When decorating cookies, it's crucial to wait for each layer of color or decoration to dry completely before adding another. As a result, the colors are less likely to blend together, and you get the impression of multiple, separate planes or sections. The base layer of our Conversation Heart Cookies, for instance, should be piped and flooded, then allowed to dry before the message is piped on top. Although it may be time-consuming, the end result of crisp edges and a multi-dimensional, layered appearance is well worth the effort.
Sugar Cookie Icing Tutorial for the Holidays
Outline the cookie with icing of piping consistency and any color you like. Then, fill the area inside the lines with icing of flooding consistency, beginning at the perimeter and working inward. You can use a toothpick to redistribute the wet icing and even out the flooding's thickness if it's uneven. After this has dried, you can pipe the finer details of your cookie design over the flooded layer that serves as its foundation.
While it's best to wait for the flooded icing to dry before piping on top of it, there are occasions when doing so is necessary. Wet-on-wet icing is a method for making a uniform layer in which the colors blend seamlessly. For example, the base layer of our Spider Web Cookies is marbled with several colors, and the lines connecting the individual spider webs are also marbled.
Watch This: Wet-on-Wet Icing for Cookies
Once you learn the fundamentals of cookie decorating, the world is your oyster. Any holiday or celebration can have its own unique set of decorated cookies.
- Piping is the process of using a pastry bag and a pastry tip to create lines or shapes in icing, typically for decorative purposes.
- Flooding: filling up large areas with softer ice.
- The thicker, glossier icing required for piping outlines and details is known as "piping-consistency icing" and can be achieved by whipping the icing with the mixer attachment until soft peaks form.
- Icing of the flooding consistency is more liquid than soft peaks and can still hold its shape, making it suitable for filling larger surfaces or sections.
In any case, I appreciate your thoughts.
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