Tag: cutters

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

update!

I realized I only added half the flour. While using a different butter might have changed it a little, it wouldn’t have caused that massive disaster! I looked at my messy recipe and realized I used the grams for the regular recipe, not the doubled one. Problem solved!


Essential Baking Tools for Beginners

Essential Baking for beginners

Essential Baking Tools for Beginners

Have you ever scrolled through Pinterest and dreamed of actually making one of those jaw-dropping desserts? Then you wake up and think, “Wow, I have no idea where to even begin, and I don’t have any fancy baking tools!” The right tools can make all the difference, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money or go to those fancy kitchen stores to get them. You probably already have most of them in your kitchen!

The tools I list here are just the bare essentials for getting you started. Some baked goods like cakes, popovers, or muffins need their own pans, but things like cookies, biscuits, and scones can all be made on regular sheet pans.

I love kitchen gadgets, especially baking equipment. I’ve added to my baking tool arsenal over the past 10+ years since college, but I didn’t start out with a huge mixer and 10 sets of measuring spoons. Don’t think you need to have the giant professional mixer when you first get started.

A Clean Pair of Hands

Yep, that’s first on my list of essential tools for beginners. Ask any professional chef or baker what his favorite tools are in the kitchen, and I’m guessing they will say clean hands. And of course I can’t emphasize enough the clean part! The CDC lays it all out for hand washing procedures on their website here.

hands kneading dough

Pans

I’ve tried lots of different pans for cookies and other baked goods and my pick is the plain aluminum baking half sheet. I picked mine up at Costco and I think they were around $11 for 2 of them. I found that 4 was a good number for just starting out. A good pan is going to be sturdy and not bend after it’s put in the oven.

You can check out aluminum baking sheets here.

aluminum half sheet pans

Parchment Paper

I love the pre-cut squares of parchment paper that lay flat in the pan. Rolls of parchment are fine and cheaper, but it takes some time to cut them and they do have a tendency to roll back up after you lay them on the pan. For the home baker, Reynold’s has some great parchment pan liners and you can find them here.

 

Heavy Rolling Pin

I received my rolling pin as a wedding gift and have really enjoyed it. It’s a Kitchen Aid non-stick rolling pin with red handles.  You can find rolling pins here . rolling pin

 Flour Sifter

This sifter is something I don’t know how I lived without for so long! My mother-in-law gave this to me several years ago and it sat on my shelf without use. It’s perfect for laying down a fine layer of flour or powdered sugar wherever it’s needed, like a work surface for rolling out dough.

Flour sifters can be found here.  Sifter

Food Scale

If you’ve ever made a recipe that called for flour and it turned out dry and crumbly, a food scale could have prevented that! Measuring dry ingredients is so much easier with a food scale, and it’s so key to getting consistent results in baking. Most can measure in grams or lbs. and oz.

Find food scales herefood scale

 

Mixing Bowls, Measuring Spoons, Whisks, and Spatulas

I’m lumping these together because most people have at least some of these items in their kitchens. I recommend having at least 1 set of measuring cups, 1 set of measuring spoons, and 1 liquid measuring cup (the glass ones). If you don’t mind washing while you work, you can also get by with 1 mixing bowl in most cases.

You can find mixing bowls here and measuring equipment here. I also love the glass measuring cups for liquid found here.

measuring cups spoons and spatulawhisk

Just the basics!

The items on this list will get you started on your baking journey. I didn’t include things like muffin or cake pans, or any decorating tools. Coming up soon, I’ll be doing a beginner decorating tool list.

I would love to hear what some of your favorite tools that have made your baking life easier. Leave a comment and share your faves!

Thanks for reading,

Leah

Time to Make the Cookies! Here’s the recipe I use.

 

Time to make the cookies
As I began my search for the perfect (for me) sugar cookies, there were a few criteria I wanted this recipe to meet. First, I wanted a dough that tastes     UH-mazing! I wanted a dough that held its shape during baking, and produced a soft cookie. Probably most important to me was a dough that didn’t need to be chilled before it was rolled out. Really, who wants to wait for dough to chill? I can barely wait for the oven to pre-heat much less an hour for dough to chill in the fridge!

Where I found my basic recipe

There were a couple of recipe flops before I discovered The One. My go-to cookie blog and one of my big inspirations, The Adventures of Sweet Sugar Belle, has a basic sugar cookie recipe you can find here.

My Tweaks

Oval cut

After making the recipe a few times I tweaked it a little so I can get the cookie results I’m looking for. Instead of using 2 tsp of baking powder, it’s cut down to 1 1/2 tsp. I found they don’t spread as much. I also use 1 1/2 tsp of almond flavoring. The first time I made the recipe I used 2 1/2 tsp of almond flavor and then wished I hadn’t. Have you ever heard the saying Too much of a good thing is no good? Well, that was probably said about almond flavoring in cookies. Maybe not, but it certainly applies.

Sweet Sugar Belle’s recipe calls for 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups of flour. I think I’ve used  2 3/4 cup every time. Converting all my dry ingredients into weight measurements gives me better control over the outcome of my product. A scale isn’t something everyone has in their kitchen, but it’s worth getting if you want consistent results for any baking. You can find the food scale I use here.  Scale

 

My Results

After making the recipe ‘mine’ I’m really happy with my results. I get nicely shaped cookies that are soft and flat. They freeze well and the recipe doubles easily. My favorite part of course, they are delicious!

Round oval square
This is a double batch of round, oval, and square cookies.

My next post I’ll be going over supplies I love and can’t bake without.

I would love to hear your go-to recipe story!

Thanks for reading,

Leah