Weekly Technique – Eyelet Lace with Royal Icing

eyelet lace

Eyelet lace is something that has caught my eye more than a few times on Pinterest. The design creates such a feminine, delicate look. Attempting this is something I wouldn’t have even dared before I made peace with my royal icing recipe and since I’ve got a good grip on that I feel like I can up my decorating game a little.

Eyelet Lace What?

The first time I saw eyelet lace on cookies was SweetAmbs book, Cookie Art. She placed eyelet lace cookies on the front and back cover, plus a page dedicated to teaching the technique. I’ve read the post several times and scoured Pinterest and think I have a good handle on how to do it.

You can find SweetAmbs Book “Cookie Art” here. It’s full of great ideas for cookie techniques and there are some templates in the back you can use for royal icing transfers, filigree, and a few other fun goodies. Check it out!

Where to Start

I’ve seen 2 different types of eyelet lace cookies, one that does the design on a naked cookie, and one on a flooded cookie. I’ll be doing both for this technique to see which one gives me better results.

Flooded Cookie

eyelet lace

I started with a flooded cookie. I had some white flooded hearts left over from Valentine’s Day, so waste not and all that! They aren’t perfect and there are about 1 million air bubbles in them, but they are good for practice.

The design inspiration came from a few different pins I found on Pinterest after searching for eyelet lace cookies. I’m keeping it simple just to learn the actual technique.

The first thing I did was trace my design onto the dried icing with a regular old pencil. Since no one will be eating these the pencil is fine, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it for consuming. The idea actually came from a group discussion on Facebook and I guess a lot of cake decorators and cookie decorators use it on a regular basis. I would have used my food coloring pens but I couldn’t find them at that moment so the pencil was a good substitute.

eyelet lace

My idea was to start very simply and then embellish it as I went along and got the feel for it.

After tracing the pattern I piped over it with my pink icing, more leftovers from Valentine’s Day. The icing is pretty stiff and I used a #2 tip.

eyelet lace

After piping on the patter, I embellished it with some simple dots and a border. The border was a little problematic for me. Because the icing was leftover from Valentine’s, it had separated a little. I thought I had mixed it up enough in the bag but as I started to pipe it on there I came to a watery, separated part and it was just a mess. That part is on the top and left side as you look at the picture. The right side is pretty neat and tidy.

eyelet lace

Overall, I really liked how this one turned out and will do this again. It was quick to decorate and fun to create a beautiful design. This probably doesn’t actually count for ‘true’ eyelet lace design, but it’s pretty close and I liked it.

Naked Cookie

eyelet lace

For the naked cookie I used the same design just without the flood underneath using the same pencil to draw on the design. I thought I could get a good comparison by doing close to the same design on both cookies.

After drawing the design, I piped right onto the cookie with the same stiff pink icing and #2 piping tip.

eyelet lace

After drying for a few minutes, I then started flooding the spaces in between the eyelets. To do this, I used a Wilton brush and some thinned out pink icing. The icing was thinner than typical flood icing, it poured easily from a spoon. I then loaded my brush and eased the icing into the places that I wanted covered.

eyelet lace

eyelet lace

Here’s what it looked like right after I finished flooding it. I found that when the icing is thinned that much, it dries kind of sticky and I didn’t love it.

eyelet lace

I went back over the eyelets with the stiff pink icing and then added the same dots as the other design. Here’s the finished product:

eyelet lace

 

 

eyelet laceConclusion

While eyelet lace is a beautiful technique for cookies, I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll be using a lot in the future. It’s pretty time-consuming and for the effort I could have cranked out about 5 cookies just as beautiful, just not as complicated.

If I keep working at it I will improve and probably get faster, just not sure if I want to at this point. I loved the white and pink cookie and how it turned out and will probably make that design again.

 

Is this something you think you will tackle in the future? If you do send me a picture, I would love to see your attempts!

Thanks for reading,

Leah

 

 

New decorating goodies! Tipless piping bags, cutters, and luster dust!

 New decorating tools new decorating goodies

New Decorating Goodies!

With all the Valentine’s cookies I had going on, I quickly ran out of my Wilton disposable bags. I even had to resort to using a few generic sandwich bags to finish some cookies. Talk about hard times! Usually I would run to Wal-Mart and pick up another box, but I’m quickly realizing I need to go another route. The price of those Wilton bags was killing me and realized some new decorating goodies was in order!

First Up- New Piping Bags!

Enter TMP- Truly Mad Plastics. I’ve checked out their site before for their cookie cutters but never realized they sold anything else. I asked for recommendations on a cookie decorating Facebook group I’m a part of and Truly Mad Plastics came up.They have their own brand of tipless piping bags in 3 different sizes and I ordered the small and medium. I’ve found smaller bags are a lot more practical for doing fine detail work. When I saw the price I was in shock, but it a good way; 100 bags for $4! So I paid $8 for 200 tipless piping bags! Such a great deal and it should last me a while.

new decorating goodies

As usual, the clearance tab caught my eye and I threw some luster dust in my cart before I checked out for $2 each. Total spent including shipping was around $18. That’s a great deal considering I usually buy 15 bags from Wilton bags for around $5. I’m so excited to use them! Because I’m watching my costs I asked for the slow boat shipping and they have yet to arrive. I’m hoping they will be at my door tomorrow because I’m kind of at a stand still for decorating until they get here! Update – I received my package just before I posted so I  grabbed a few quick pics with my phone… sorry for the bad quality pictures!

Ordering from TMP

Great ordering experience from TMP – not only was my order accurate, they threw in a few goodies and sample, too! They included all 3 sizes of their piping bags, so I get to see the large as well. They also put in a discount code for a future order over $10 for next month, and some mints and a small sucker. Love it! Oh, and can’t forget the smiley face hand drawn on the packing slip 🙂

New Cutters!

new cutters new decorating goodies

I’m helping with a baby shower next month and will be using that as an excuse to try out a few of those adorable baby shower cookies I’ve been pinning (You can follow my Pinterest boards here). I didn’t really have any good cutters for a baby boy shower so I purchased a onesie and bow tie cutter.  I’ll be practicing before then and of course posting all my progress. I’m guessing everyone will be sick of seeing all my baby shower cookies before then!

On My Way!

Again, posting these new decorating goodies are just my way of marking my progress as a cookie decorator. I’m still building up my tools and my wish list is growing and changing every day. A realization of what is professional and what is hobby is also becoming apparent as I do more decorating. The Wilton piping bags are great for starting and I recommend them for beginners, but I realized I needed a step up. As I’ve started decorating more and more, I want something that is made specifically for royal icing and cookies. TMP bags fit the bill for me. There are other brands out there for the tipless piping bags, but I went with one that was recommended and had the best price. It’s also a small business and I try to support small business owners as much as I possibly can.

 

I’ve already decorated some cookies with my new decorating goodies. I’ll be posting pictures of them in the next couple of days. They were just some cookies I had in the freezer and white royal icing I had left over from the last batch I had made, but the blue luster dust looks great on the white! I do love my blue and white combos.

 

Thanks for reading!

Leah

The Big Cookie Flop – why my fail proof recipe failed!

 big cookie flop

The Big Cookie Flop – My fail-proof recipe failed!

There was a request from my son’s teacher to make cookies for his Valentine’s party. After agreeing I realized I had to make more cookies as I had almost depleted my heart stash in the freezer. So I did what I always do; gather my equipment, get out my ingredients making sure I had all of them in the house before I started, and pre-heat my oven. Everything I normally do when I bake cookies was happening and going pretty, well, normally.

I even had the luxury of having my 10-year-old niece over to help me with my 2 youngest kids. This should have been prime baking time with perfect results!

The Bake

I weighed and measured everything and started combining the ingredients. Creamed the softened butter and sugar, added my eggs and flavoring, then started adding my dry ingredients. This is where I realized there was a problem. Not sure exactly what caused the problem, but something was wrong and this dough was showing me no love. It was really wet and still very sticky.

Usually by the time I’ve added in all my flour I’ve questioned if it was too much, but not this time. I added more flour, then I added more flour, and then, I added a little more. Still too soft to work with. The counter was already dusted so I decided to try rolling and cutting a few cookies. Well, it kind of worked. I was able to cut 3 hearts, and one fancy diamond shape, but the arrow wasn’t happening. It stuck completely and I couldn’t get the dough out. I pulled it out, cleaned it off and dipped the entire cutter in flour. Try, try, again, right? Wrong. I should have stopped while I was ahead! I got a knife and poked the dough out in some kind of a resemblance of an arrow.

Blobs, Anyone?

nailed it horse
Not my cookies, but could have been my cookies.

By this point I’m realizing this dough isn’t going to bake well, but I decided to try anyway. I don’t know if you’ve seen that Pinterest picture of a horse cookie and when it baked it spread like crazy, then they showed a picture of a photo shopped horse that looked just like that cookie? I thought that was so funny, but I wasn’t laughing as I pulled my blobby cookies out of the oven.

big cookie flop
You can see hearts, right?

Well, this was just great. I still have 4 dozen cookies to make and decorate, and now all my mixing utensils are dirty, and I have a bowl full of dough that I can’t use for rolling and cutting!

In spite of the terrible look of the cookies, I was able to get them on a pan with a cookie scoop (imagine!) and baking them off anyway. They won’t win the beauty contest but they do taste good if you close your eyes before eating them. I won’t be using them for decorating, I’m actually not sure what I’ll do with them, but at least the dough didn’t go in the trash. I imagined myself vengefully and dramatically showing that dough who was boss as I flung it into the trash can… nope. Didn’t happen.

big cookie flop
So many ugly cookies!

 

Time to Troubleshoot…

What went wrong? I’ve made this recipe at least 15 times without fail; what changed?

Butter brand?

big cookie flopbig cookie flop

There are a few logical explanations I can think of that would make this happen. The big thing that jumped out at me was that I used a different brand of butter. I usually use regular store brand unsalted butter. Nothing spectacular about it, just plain old plain old. When I checked my ingredients before I started baking like I always do I realized I was out of said butter and decided to use my Kerry Gold. Because this butter is more expensive than my store brand, it’s specifically used for bullet proof coffee. Have I mentioned I love coffee? I digress, back to the cookies.

My first buttery thought is that the moisture content in that butter is higher and that threw off my ratios. Of course, I have no real idea but it’s just a guess. Second, I thought the measurement might be off. My cookie recipe is always doubled. Even if I don’t need 3-4 dozen cookies, I will freeze the rest for later. That way I always have cookies to decorate when I have some time to practice. My doubled recipe calls for 4 sticks of butter, the Kerry Gold is sold in an 8 oz. package, equal to 2 sticks. I need 4 sticks of butter for my doubled recipe, so I used 2 packages.  I double checked this before I started. It looked like a lot, but that’s what the package said. I got out 2 packages, which I normally don’t have on hand but it was on sale at Aldi.

I’m still not convinced I used too much butter, my butter was prepackaged, I didn’t measure it out myself. There was no baker error in the butter category.

Too soft too fast?

My train of thought then led me to the softening process. I’ve mentioned several times I am a do-it-now person and I want things done quickly as possible, even if that means my butter might be softened a little too quickly in the microwave and is a little runny when it comes out. I put it in the microwave, pressed the quick 30 second button with every intention of standing right by the microwave and stopping it every 10 seconds to turn it until it was nicely softened all the way through. Lets just say when the microwave dinged I thought it was the timer to let the dog back inside. Oh yeah, I have butter I just left in the microwave on high for 30 seconds!

In spite of my microwave-capades, not convinced my butter was too soft because it creamed nicely with the sugar and eggs.

Too little flour?

So my last possible idea is this: I just didn’t put in enough flour. To make things easier on myself, I pre-mixed all my dry ingredients for several batches. That worked great until I ran out of pre-mixed goodies and have to do all the measuring again. If you could see my recipe, you might put it in the hot mess category of your recipe box. I have a print out of the recipe with all my scribbled changes, my measurements in grams, then doubled in grams, and all sorts of other secret code messages to myself. The need is great for me to just type a brand new one for myself so I can actually understand it!

You might have caught my possible mistake… I think I may have measured out flour for a single batch instead of a double batch. I’m not even sure and I can’t remember, but it’s entirely possible and I think it’s the most plausible of all my hypotheses.

Conclusion for my big cookie flop?

Yes, I have a conclusion to the blob cookie blunder. Have a well written recipe that’s easy to read, follow my own baking tips, and double check my measurements! Oh, and don’t walk away from butter in the microwave 🙂

I tried to make this as humorous as possible, but the reality is I have about 3 dozen hideous cookies that are now staring at me, another batch of (hopefully) pretty cookies to mix, roll out, cut, bake, and decorate, and another sink full of dishes.

You can read my post about my recipe here.

Have you ever had a big cookie flop or a cake catastrophe? Lets laugh and cry together in the comments 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Leah

Eureka! I’ve cracked the Royal Icing code- Problem Solved!

Eureka!

 Eureka! I’ve cracked the Royal Icing code – Problem Solved!

If you’ve been reading the past few blog posts, I’ve really been struggling with my royal icing. Not just getting the consistency right for what I want, but the actual recipe itself. It just never turned out as promised or desperately hoped! Well, today I had a breakthrough and realized my mistake – for it was MY mistake… at least I think it was. You’ll quickly realize the reason for my confused state if you keep reading. I tried a completely new recipe with completely different instructions on mixing. I was really skeptical at first because the directions were completely opposite from the other recipe I had been following BUT I had great results with this one!

About the New Royal Icing Recipe

The recipe is from Blyss Cookies and it’s simple (which of course I LOVE), straightforward, and easy to follow. The instructions were great for me because it gave specific times and speeds for mixing. Blyss Cookies put their recipe out on purpose for others to use and I really appreciate that. I’ll be linking to their page, so lets show them some love!

You can find the link to their royal icing recipe and sugar cookie recipe here. They have some social media links also, so check them out and give them a like and a follow.

What I love the most about this recipe was how it was written. There were no vague terms, secret cookie maker codes, or guessing on ingredient amounts. In other words, it was SIMPLE!!

They totally demystified the thing that is royal icing and I am forever grateful. When I get a new recipe I plan on using, I always read it through twice. It may seem redundant, but how many times have you started a new recipe without reading it entirely and miss an ingredient or leave out a crucial step? That’s why I read twice. As I read, I realized the most unusual thing about the recipe was the ingredient mixing order. I have always mixed dry ingredients together to make sure they are thoroughly blended together, then combine the wet, then add them together. The Blyss recipe started with mixing the water, flavoring, and meringue powder together first!

Mind. blown.

Ah, Problem Solved

Now, this may be shocking, but I have a thing for mixing. Any time I make a recipe like muffins or another type of batter recipe that says “don’t over-mix, batter will be lumpy” I almost have a nervous breakdown. Must….destroy…the lumps! My vice has been my downfall trying to make a good royal icing. All the recipes I’ve tried have said “DO NOT OVER-MIX” It won’t harden if it’s over mixed and can cause a whole plethora of other problems. So what did I do? Why, under-mix of course! That has been my problem the entire time. I haven’t mixed enough to get the correct consistency for the royal icing. Totally had a lightbulb-over-head moment there.

royal icing undermixed.
About 4 minutes under-mixed.

There are 3 children in my household, and they all love Peg + Cat. If you have kids in your house you know what song was going through my head at this time… “Problem solved! The problem is solved! We solved the problem, problem solved!”  In case you have no idea what I’m talking about  you can watch it here 🙂

I forgot to take pictures!

Here is the sad thing about the whole experience… totally forgot to take pictures of my icing! The excitement was so great that taking pictures was the last thing on my mind. I did get some pictures of the cookies in progress with the final results.

stiff royal icing
Nice, stiff consistency
With flood consistency

 

 

Trying this new recipe was a life saver. Honestly, I was getting a little discouraged with decorating because I just couldn’t get the royal icing that everyone else was using! Now that I’ve got the wind in my sails again, I’m ready for more challenges. I did some brush embroidery on those first 2 pictures and it worked great because I had the stiff consistency I needed, and did wet on wet which is still my favorite. The cookies weren’t completely finished at this point, I went back and added some borders and embellishments on a few more and was really happy with the results. This was definitely my best set of cookies to date and I owe it all to my new recipe from Blyss Cookies! Thank you!

Have you been making any progress with your decorating or recipes? I’ve got some new ideas running around in my head and I’ll be sharing those soon.

Thanks for reading!

Leah

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Technique- The Stencil

weekly technique stencilWeekly Technique – Stencils

I decided to practice with the new stencils and the results are in…still… need …more …practice. The neat and tidy royal icing pattern stencils can offer is wonderful, but like every other technique, it’s a little more difficult than it looks. Actually kind of bummed about how these turned out, I really thought I had a better grasp of this technique but toss a new stencil in the mix and I’m beginning all over again!

Royal Icing Re-Do

stiff royal icing

I tried the royal icing recipe again and I ended up with the same result too thin. I added sugar and meringue powder until I got the consistency I was hoping for in the first place. The icing was thick and held stiff peaks well. I will definitely be trying some new recipes in the future and will probably start with the tried and true Wilton recipe. I’m also thinking of adding some corn syrup to my icing as well, but that’s for another post!

The Colors

Blue Gray cookies

If you ask my 2 older children or my husband what is my favorite color, they will quickly tell you gray. Not sure if gray actually counts as a “color”, but it is my favorite. All shades of gray or any color with that cool gray tone just speaks to me. I love gray! Over Christmas I was able to  order the Wilton Garden Color Set. The Delphinium Blue is, as you can probably guess, a blue-gray! I mixed up 2 different shades of this; one a very light gray, and the other the full color. I attempted a royal blue but it didn’t turn out as dark as I was hoping even after letting the colors develop for a few hours. Blue and white are another one of my favorite color combos and one of my new stencils was purchased with that in mind.

The Stencils

blue and white stencilfiligree stencil

 

Blue and white cookies
1st attempt at the top, 2nd attempt middle, and 3rd attempt bottom.

Hobby Lobby stencils were in full play during this cookie decorating session. The plan was to use the lettering stencils and the 2 designs for all 9 cookies, but because the others didn’t turn out like I’d hoped, I brought in the old standbys. First up was the blue and white, and I was hopeful after the first cookie turned out decent. There was a little edge problem where I didn’t get the stencil all the way down onto the cookie so I tried to compensate for that on the second one. Next cookie was worse, the icing was too thick.

The last cookie I don’t even want to talk about, but since this is all about learning… if the icing was too thick on the 2nd one, it was extra too thick on the third. I actually had to let it dry, then knock down the tall stuff with a serrated knife! I was so embarrassed as I was sawing off my high places knowing it would have to be included on my blog post but hey, live and learn!

 

The filigree stencil was my most difficult. Due to the pattern and the thinness (cheapness) of the stencil, the pattern lifted off the cookie when the icing was spread, which of course smudged the pattern. I tried it twice with the same horrendous outcome. Warning: Cringe-worthy photo ahead…

filigree

 

One cookie was done with the letter K, and it turned out fine, just a little plain.K stencil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the other stencils didn’t turn out as I had hoped, I brought out “Old Faithful”, my damask stencils. It has 2 designs on each stencil and it looked beautiful with the Delphinium blues. Even with those I had a smudge and my self-confidence was gone at this point.

damask
This one turned out the best, no smudges!
damask
You can see towards the bottom it smudged a little.

damask

Time for a Tool Change!

My offset spatula had been my tool of choice but after all those bad cookies I had switched to my small pink rubber spatula and that seemed to work much better. You better believe I’ll be using Pinky for stenciling from now on!PINKY

 

What Did I Learn?

Will I stencil again? Absolutely! Stencils are still high on my list of great tools for cookiers, they give the ability to crank out uniform designs relatively quickly and easily. Well, with practice of course.

Here are a few things I will do differently next time:

  • Try for more even flooding – If I can get a better working surface, I’ll get a better stencil design. I’m still tying to find my own way of flooding and icing consistency, which affects EVERYTHING!
  • Use magnets – While I would love to have a Stencil Genie, I’m going to start with something a little easier on the budget… magnets from the dollar store used on a metal baking sheet I already have.
  • PINKY!!! – To say that I was kicking myself for not using Pinky from the start would be an understatement. So much easier. The rubber is just better at going over the surface and lays the icing smoother. I might have had a completely different post if I’d used Pinky the entire time.
  • Clean my stencils after each use – big problem with my blue and white cookies, the icing just kept getting thicker with each cookie.
  • Keep practicing! – I love this technique and want to improve.
Blue Gray cookies
Before…

 

finished stencils
After…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any stencilers out there? What’s your favorite stencil to use and favorite color combinations? I’ll be using the gray again (of course!) and still loving that blue and white.

Thanks for reading!

Leah

 

 

 

10 Decorating Tools (I Think)I Can’t Live Without!

10 tools Follow my blog with Bloglovin
As a newbie decorator still learning the ropes, I have a long list of decorating tools that I’m dying to add to my arsenal. I watch videos, scour Pinterest, and troll Facebook to see the latest and greatest of decorating. The same tools pop up over and over! I’m excited to create my ultimate list and then start checking them off as they are added. These items range from a few dollars to a few hundred depending on selection and even though some of them are pretty cheap, they are on my list because I just don’t have them yet.

The List of Things I’m Pretty Sure I need

These aren’t in any particular order, so here goes!

  1. Stencil Genie – this little gadget holds the stencil in place so it doesn’t smudge when you are applying the icing. Great idea! You can find out more here.
  2. Airbrush system – The possibilities are endless with airbrushing! You can add a little shimmer, a bold pattern, lettering, whatever you can think of! Really can’t wait to get one of these. You can see a few choices here.airbrush
  3. More luster dust! – The brand I would like to build up my supply with is Crystal Colors. I’ve seen it used over and over with amazing results. You can find them here.luster dust
  4. A color palette – you can use this to mix extracts with luster dust to create a ‘paint’ for your cookies. Again, possibilities are endless. I like this one here. color palette
  5. Americolor soft gel color paste – I love the bold colors I get from this product. A red is red and black is black which is hard to obtain in food coloring. Hopefully I can add more colors as I go, for now I have the student kit 1. Here are some choices for Americolor. americolor soft gel paste
  6. Specialty Cutters – Any cutter you can imagine can probably be found online. There are a few shops that make their products in the USA and are great quality. Ann Clark Cutters and Truly Mad Plastics are two that I follow and enjoy their work. They have also partnered with some fellow bloggers to create cutter lines. Ann Clark is here and Truly Mad Plastics is here. Check them out, they are amazing!
  7. More piping tips – I have mostly Wilton tips 1,2,3, and 4 and have been satisfied with them. They are easy to use and readily available in most craft stores and even Wal-Mart. You can find them here.wilton #3
  8. Flower Nails and Rose Tips – Beautiful royal icing roses is high on my list to master. I love the idea of making a large quantity of flower decorations to store and use any time. I’ve been watching videos and hope to add this soon. You can find flower nails here. I added the whole list for Wilton Flower Nail, and for some reason Ateco heating cores pop up in there too, disregard those.flower nail
  9. KopyKake projector – This is something I would like to get a while down the road as it’s pretty spendy. This projector makes it easy to transfer images onto cookies (or any baked goods for that matter) and I’ve seen some amazing work done on it. Definitely not something I need right now, but something I would like in the future. You can find KopyKake here.kopykake projector
  10. Decorator bottles with couplers – I love using squeeze bottles for flooding my cookies. They are easy to fill and are fast for flooding those cookies! I’m hoping to add some of these bottles so I can do some fine detail work with them as well as flooding. You can find them herebottles for decorating

What a list!

There you have my list of 10 ‘think I need and can’t live without’ decorating tools. There are probably a lot more out there that I either haven’t discovered yet or don’t realize how amazing it is. I’m always watching for the latest and greatest thing and might have to update my list when I find a few more things to add.

Do you have a list of things you hope to get to up your decorating game? I would love to hear about them and maybe add a few things to my own list!

Thanks for reading!

Leah

Check out my new decorating toys!

New decorating tools

New decorating tools

Hobby Lobby Anyone?

Check out my new decorating toys! I’m always looking to up my decorating arsenal, so when  said we could go to Hobby Lobby I printed out my 40% coupons and was out the door in record time! I was so enthralled to see all the different decorating tools Hobby Lobby has I almost didn’t hear my toddler screaming through the entire store as my husband tried distracting her so I could browse. I said almost. Did I mention I have an amazing husband?

Luster Dust

I picked up a few things and wanted to share them with you. I’ve been immersing myself in decorating videos on multiple social media platforms and see over and over again the use of luster dust. Most of the dust used is either gold or pink, but there were a lot of different colors. Hobby Lobby just had one brand and I haven’t looked up any reviews on it. It’s Sunny Side Up Bakery Luster Dust. I think it’s their brand of baking equipment but since it’s the only brand they had, and since I had 40% off, I went for it. It was regularly priced $4.49. I’m looking for a link to it on Hobby Lobby but it goes to a wilton product. I think it might be mis-labeled on the website, it’s the same thing. I’ll link it anway here

I’m really, really excited to try this! I’ve been so busy with blog stuff the past week I haven’t had time to do any decorating. I’ve got another batch of royal icing in the works, then I’ll do some practicing with the luster dust. I’ll be posting pictures of all the cookies I decorate, even the bad ones, so you can see how I use the dust. Did I mention I’m really excited about it?? I’m also excited to get back to making some cookies!

Stencils

I’ve played around with stencils before and really love the uniform look I get with them. Since I’m still working on my free hand work with piping and, well, pretty much everything else, stencils can do for me what I still can’t do for myself. The stencils I’ve used before came from Hobby Lobby so I knew it would be ok to get some more from there. I purchased a set of letter stencils, and 2 other designs. I’m excited about these, too. The cookies I decorated with stencils before were well received, so looking forward to doing more! The stencils can be found here and here. The ones I already had purchased and the ones in the pictures below are here. Those are still a favorite 🙂

Here are some cookies I made using stencilefor our neighbors at Christmas.

Building Up My Arsenal

I know it doesn’t seem like much or maybe even warrant an entire blog post for 3 items, but my goal here is to show that I don’t have everything already. I’m still a beginner working my way up to the next level. I’ll share things I pick up here or there and probably be just as excited about the next goody!

In an upcoming post, I’ll be sharing what I’ve got on my wishlist for decorating. I’m sure it won’t be all-inclusive becuase I’m sure there are things out there I need and don’t even know it yet!

What are some supplies you have built up for decorating?

Thanks for reading!

Leah

 

Drumroll Please…Introducing Weekly Technique! Royal Icing Problem Solving

Royal icing problem solving

Royal icing problem solving

Introducing… Weekly Technique!

Learning new techniques is high on my list of things to accomplish in my new cookie life. Realizing my lack of knowledge makes me overwhelmed (again), I have decided to take one technique each week or two and master it. Maybe master is too strong a word, I think practicing to see improvement is a better description. Working on one thing at a time keeps the overwhelm from creeping over and consuming me.

I want to start with basic things that are bugging me about my cookies like inconsistent outlining or uneven flooding. That goes back to working on my royal icing recipe and tweaking it until it’s what I want. When I look at my cookies in person they look ok. I don’t want ok, I want AMAZING! I want that wow factor over the top and I’m willing to put the work in until I get it right.

With this in mind I’ll be starting a new feature here on the blog, The Weekly Technique. The name pretty much says it all, but I’ll be focusing on a new technique each week until I see some improvement or get where I want to be.

This week I’ve decided to work on my royal icing. From my last post I mentioned my royal icing was too loose and I never got that stiff consistency I wanted. I couldn’t do the other techniques I had hoped to do because of my beginner (grrr)mistake.

royal icing

The problem with practicing a lot with royal icing – it’s expensive. A single batch of royal icing it about $6 and it’s NOT something I can just try over and over again. When I didn’t get my desired results with the last batch I was pretty bummed (Insert sad-faced emoji with dollar sign eyes here). It wasn’t a total waste, I was able to practice some wet on wet techniques and learned how to do the roses that looked so pretty.royal icing roses

Royal Icing Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for royal icing:

  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Meringue Powder
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Water

royal icing ingredients

 

 

I have used the recipe from SweetAmbs and The Adventures of Sweet Sugar Belle. Of the 2, I’ve gotten better results from Sugar Belle’s (You can find Sugar Belle’s recipe here. You can get SweetAmbs recipe in her cookbook or you can pay to download it here.

Problems:

The main problem I’ve had with the actual recipe is getting a good starting consistency. It’s always too thin to be considered “stiff”. A stiff consistency is used for a lot of techniques I want to practice like piped borders, brush embroidery, and fine detail work.

Possible Solutions:

There are so many blogs out there with differing opinions that I think I’ve mixed up a few of them. That’s probably why I’m messing up my icing and why I need to get my “own” recipe down.

My possible solution is to use the entire two lb bag and add the water a tablespoon at a time. Usually I add the vanilla extract to the water so it’s completely mixed in. The problem with that is if you get to stiff Icing consistency before all the liquid is added you are missing some of that extract. In my book, flavor is extremely important so I want all the flavor I can get.

royal icing ingredients
Water and extract combined. WAY too much liquid 🙁

SImplified, my solutions are as follows:

  • Use full 2 lbs of sugar
  • add water slowly, tablespoon at a time
  • add full amount of vanilla extract separately

I will be making just one batch of royal icing this week to test my solutions and I’ll do a quick post to give an update if it worked.

If I can get this down, it will really improve my decorating. Just sitting down and doing a little problem solving was so helpful. Hopefully there will be an amazing, over the top batch of royal icing to share later this week! Of course, consistencies of royal icing and when to use them for what is a whole different ball game which will definitely be covered in a different Weekly Technique post. And then there’s coloring royal icing… so much to learn!

Have you every tried making royal icing? What results did you get the first few times?

Thanks for reading!

Leah

 

 

Valentine’s Cookie Pictures: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures

I finally finished and photographed my cookies I made and I’m ok with how they turned out. Royal icing can be tricky to get right and as a beginner, I’m still working on it. This batch was too thin for some of the things I wanted to do but it was great for flooding and wet on wet technique. I’ll be doing an upcoming blog post on Royal Icing and letting you know all my mistakes so hopefully you won’t make them too!
Back to the cookies!

So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly! That’s how we learn, right? If I don’t want to post ugly cookies on the blog then I’ll have to improve, or that’s my theory anyway. My goal was to have a plan for the cookies I was going to decorate, and of course that didn’t happen exactly how I thought it would. I also wanted to stick with 3 main colors. Again, didn’t quite stick with that. Does white count as a color? I don’t think it does, so I’ll say I only went over by 2 or 3. I worked with pinks, red, green, and white. My main goal was to make several identical cookies for photographing – NAILED IT! My good cookies had at least 3 of each, some more. I kept working on it until I got it right… or ran out of cookies.

The Good:

My new technique I worked on this time was wet on wet roses. I really love how they look painted on the cookie, very feminine and delicate. I think these were my favorite cookies out of the batch this time around. When I made these cookies I was a little disappointed how the actual cookies baked. It’s a large heart cutter with a smaller heart to cut out the center.valentine's day cookies When they baked the center heart lost a little of its shape. If you look closely at them the outlines aren’t so great and my flooding could use work. More cookie goals!

Valentine's Day Cookie pictures

 

 

The small hearts received roses also and some wet on wet patterns. Those were some of my favorites.

 

Valentine's Day cookie pictures                                                                                              How could I forget kissy cookies for Valentine’s Day! I love doing these and  I’m still working on getting them to look just right. I liked the pink, but do prefer red for the lips.

 

 

Valentine's Day Cookie PicturesValentine's Day Cookie PicturesLOVE these arrows! They are very simple and I didn’t flood them like the rest, but I’m happy with how they turned out. It took me several tries to figure out exactly what I wanted on these. Remember I said I was going to show the good, the bad, and the ugly? Well, prepare for the bad and ugly part!

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures
Sad Arrow Attempts 🙁

The Bad and The Ugly:

Yes, here are the very ugly and sad arrow cookies. I’m sad it took me that many tries to figure out what I wanted! They still taste great of course, just ugly. You have to close your eyes when you eat them 🙂

Valentine's Day Cookie Pictures
Sad Brush Embroidery 🙁

 

 

 

 

Here is another mishap for this batch. I talked about brush embroidery in the quick post from yesterday. I was planning on doing several cookies in this style but because my royal icing didn’t turn out, my brush embroidery didn’t turn out. You need stiff icing for it and mine was just too runny. Oh well, there’s always next batch.

Ok, One more good one…

Valentine's Day Cookie PicturesOn a brighter note, I tried some filigree and liked it. I really enjoy the flowing lines and curves of filigree and it’s another goal of mine to become proficient at this. For these, I looked at a stencil as I decorated. Eventually I would like to be doing this freehand but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

 

 

 

Things I learned from these cookies:

  1. Plan ahead! I knew I needed a plan of how I wanted to decorate the cookies and didn’t make one.
  2. Follow the recipe for Royal Icing exactly! Usually my icing is ok, this time it was not and I know what I did wrong. I added my water all at once instead of a little at a time like I was supposed to.
  3. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t turn out the first time. Keep trying to get better!

 

Any big plans to make Valentine’s Day cookies? I’ve got a couple of orders and I’ll not only be making a plan on how to decorate them but actually using it!