The Daring Bakers Challenge is a monthly baking challenge where members are required to create something from the exact recipe. I decided to join up to learn new things and challenge myself to bake things I would not have imagined creating. I started off my Darling Bakers’ challenge on the wrong foot. My first challenge was suppose to be last month’s Bomb Alaska with brown butter pound cake but I kinda didn’t get around to doing it. Well I had all the components ready and I did start to make petit fours out of it but it wasn’t what I had envisioned so I disregarded it. I am a perfectionist afterall.
This month’s challenge was to make decorated sugar cookies. Sounds simple enough. However, the challenge was to create decorated cookies with September as a theme. So what does September mean to me? The first of September marks the beginning of a few things. First day of the month. *A pinch and a punch…* First day of Spring. I’m a sunshine loving kinda girl. AND it’s the first day I live a year older each year.
I thought to myself “How the heck am I suppose to incorporate these ideas into cookies?!” Ant lent me some of his creative juices and said “Why don’t you make a cake out of cookies?” Sure! I thought.. Now how was I going to do that!?
I knew that it was going to be hard to cut up a cake made of cookies so I decided that I’ll just have to bake the cookies as segments and when I assemble the cookie cake I should make sure that these segments are aligned. I didn’t have a big enough cookie cutter so I used my mini cake tin (10cm) and cut circles out with that and then cut the segments individually (making sure that they are roughly the same size).
Then I thought about the filling that I was going to have separating each layer of cookies. I made a chocolate mousse and scattered pieces of strawberries throughout as I wanted something firm enough to sandwich the cookies together. A simple chocolate ganache covered the cookie cake and I was now on my way to decorating… Fitting in with the September theme, I wanted this cookie cake to be decorated with things related to Spring. Thanks to Sharon Wee, I made a batch of fondant flowers and butterflies.
It’s not over yet… I’ve always wanted a topsy turvy cake for my birthday. I found a topsy turvy cookie cutter online but I couldn’t be bothered buying it just for this challenge so I kind of made my own.. There are online tutorials demonstrating how to make your own cookie cutter out of pieces of aluminium trays (you know the ones you use for BBQs) or sheets of metal, but I also couldn’t be bothered to do this. Instead, I drew my design onto a piece of cardboard and used that as my template for my cookies, all that was required was a bit of patience cutting around the edges and tidying them up with a knife.
I’m quite proud of the two creations I’ve made this month, I guess it makes up for missing out on last month’s challenge right?
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.
Basic sugar cookies
Adapted from Romantic Cakes by Peggy Porschen
Makes approximately 36 x 10cm cookies
285g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
425g plain flour, sifted
- Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and any flavourings you’re using (I added 1 tsp of cinnamon), beat until just becoming creamy in texture (Don’t over mix otherwise the cookies will spread during baking).
- Beat in the egg until well combined.
- Add the sifted flour and mix on low until combined.
- Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces. Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
- 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. (It’s important to 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 180C (350F). Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies. (Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly).
- Leave to cool on cooling racks. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired. (Un-decorated cookies can last up to a month if kept in airtight containers in a cool place).
Adapted from here
200g semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream, cold
- Melt chocolate, milk and butter in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure that the bowl fits snuggly over the saucepan and does not touch the water).
- Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm.
- Whisk in the egg yolk.
- Whip the cream in a separate bowl to medium peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture.
- Chill before serving.
Making the cookie cake
For the cookies
- Cut three 10cm circles from the cookie dough and cut 6 equal wedges from each circle.
- Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 180C (350F) for 15minutes (rotating the baking sheet after 7mins).
- Leave to cool before assembling the cake.
- Chop a handful of strawberries roughly.
- Line 6 cookie wedges on a plate and top with chocolate mousse and chopped strawberries until surface is covered (It might be easier to do this with a cake tin to hold it all together).
- Place 6 cookie wedges on top, making sure they are in line with the wedges on the bottom.
- Repeat steps 2 & 3 for remaining cookies, mousse and strawberries.
- Chill in refrigerator to set.
- Cover with chocolate ganache (I made a simple ganache by heating 100g chocolate and 90g of cream) and decorate.
Adapted from here
Makes approx. 3 cups
2 large egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
3 cups (345g) icing sugar
- Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
- Sift the icing sugar and add to the egg whites and beat on low until combined and smooth.
- Colour the icing with a couple drops of food colouring until desired colour is achieved.
- Use immediately or keep in an airtight container. (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).