Tag: tools

New Cookies Using Luster Dust!

new cookies

New Cookies!

Just a quick follow up post after getting my new goodies. The wait had been almost unbearable and I had to try out my new bags and dust. The results ended up creating a new cookies that I loved. There was no real plan here, I was just playing around and getting a feel for the bags. I liked the thinness of them and feel like it gives me a little more control. That being said, it will still take some practice plus making sure I have a good consistency for icing. This is also the first time I’ve ventured out with my dust and I really loved it.

Dust 3 Ways

I used it 3 different ways here, I flicked it onto wet icing with a dry brush, brushed it on dry, then mixed it with lemon extract for a paint effect. Overall, I love the look! I flicked on the blue and white dust I just got in my order, then used the blue to brush on dry and wet. I did some gold accents with the dust I had purchased at hobby lobby a few weeks ago. Loving the gold and blue together, it just looks so nice.

new cookies

Getting a Good Picture

The cookies were a little hard to photograph even with decent light. The dust is iridescent and so pretty in the light, but it was so hard to capture with the camera! I did the best I could for that and think I ended up with some pictures that come close to doing them justice.

new cookies

 

Overall A Good Experience

Since this was my first time using the dust and the bags I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really love this new cookie set. Since I did not plan any of these cookies or go for any specific design or theme, they turned out much better than I even hoped. I was just playing around and having fun! If we can’t do that every now and then as cookie artists, then what’s the point? They are cookies and cookies are supposed to bring joy for everyone, even the bakers 🙂

New Cookies

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

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

 

 

 

A Wish List for Beginner Cookie Decorators

 

wish list

The Wish List

If you’ve been bitten by the cookie decorating bug like I have, you’ve probably already assembled the basic tools of the trade. You also probably have a wish list of tools you hope to add as you develop your skill. Here are some items I’ve listed and descriptions of why you would want/need them for cookies.

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

Stencil Genie

This little gadget holds the stencil in place so it doesn’t smudge when you are applying the icing or airbrushing. Great idea! You can find out more here.

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

Luster dust

A great brand is Crystal Colors. I’ve seen it used over and over with amazing results. You can find them here. Truly Mad Pastics also carries some great colors, you can find them here. luster dust

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

Americolor soft gel color paste

I love the bold colors you get from this product. They each give you a true color which is hard to obtain in food coloring. Here are some choices for Americolor. americolor soft gel paste

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!

Piping tips

I use mostly Wilton tips 1,2,3, and 4. They are easy to use and readily available in most craft stores and even Wal-Mart. You can find them here. Another brand that’s great for fine details is PME, they start at size 00 and go up from there. You can find them here. wilton #3

Flower Nails and Rose Tips

Royal icing roses are great to keep on hand as you can use them to dress up any baked goods. I love the idea of making a large quantity of flower decorations to store and use any time. You can find the Wilton Flower Nail here and the rose petal tips here.flower nail

Pico projector

This projector makes it easy to transfer images or writing onto cookies (or any baked goods for that matter) and I’ve seen some amazing work done on it. This really ups your game and can give you uniform writing on your cookies. You can find Pico handheld projectors here and here.wishlist

Decorator bottles with couplers

Squeeze bottles are great for flooding cookies quickly with less mess. These bottles here have couplers on them so you can use your favorite tips instead of bags. You can find them herewishlist

Dehydrator

Dehydrators are definitely on the wish list, they are great for drying royal icing faster than a fan or air drying. There are several different brands, check them out here.

What a wish list!

These are not necessarily beginner tools, but something to work up to when it’s no longer just something you want to try.

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

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