Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Last Year's Christmas Cookies

I just can't wait to go home and bake my signature Christmas sugar cookies. Unfortunately for me, my last exam is the night of the 20th which means I won't be able to go home until the 21st. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have time to make them in all the rush I'll be going home to. I also hope that my gold spray will work colouring cookies because I'm determined to find a use for the spray after the stencil catastrophe.

Well, until I go home I still have last year's cookies to make me feel christmasy and inspire me to make some really original ones this year. This year I plan to use gold, burgundy and a more olive-y green as my colour scheme and I want to use some different cutters. Until then...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Petit Fours

This weekend/week I got an opportunity to go home and spend some time with my family before my exams. So this morning my mother and I baked petit fours with lady cake and a glaze icing which I had some pretty high hopes for. The original plan was to use some christmas cookie stencils I had been given as a gift and use a gold food spray. I had never used food spray before but I had a friend who had used it to colour fondant and it was suggested on the stencil package. When I sprayed the petit fours what instead happened when I lifted the stencil was the whole thing covered in watery, barely visible gold. So as a back-up I decided I would spray it into a bowl and paint trees onto them...once again barely visible. So my second back-up was just to sprinkle some gold lustre dust on them...over all boring but very, very tasty. And next time I make these I will make sure I have my decorating supplies at home!

The recipe I used was a Lady Cake (a white cake with lemon and almond flavouring) from the Joy of Cooking. It was a dense but moist cake similar to a lemon pound cake. I baked them in muffin tins filling them only half way but I would recommend if you have the time to bake a sheet cake and use a cutter to cut out the cakes so that they're more level.

Lady Cake

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (not specified but I used 2%)
1 teaspoon almond extract
grated zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups of butter (3 sticks)
1 2/3 cups sugar
6 egg whites
3/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
additional 1/3 cups sugar


Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl (I just used the liquid measuring cup) mix together the milk and flavourings. I decided to keep the zest separate until I added the milk mixture to the butter mixture but at this time grate the lemon.

Beat butter on high until creamy: 30 sec. Gradually add the sugar while beating on high until its lightened in colour. Next add the flour in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture in two parts (at this time I added the lemon) and beat until completely mixed. This recipe makes a heavier batter and it will be really thick at this point but once you add the egg whites it will get a little lighter.

In another bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Then gradually add the sugar and beat until the peaks stiffen without becoming dry. Despite making this recipe many times, this time around my egg whites didn't really form peaks and I over beat them to the point that it went flat again. If this happens don't worry it shouldn't affect the recipe in the end.

Finally fold in the egg whites with the batter and bake at 375. The petit fours in the muffin tins took about 15 min. and the thin cake layer we made was about 20.

Glaze Icing

3 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons softened butter
8 - 12 teaspoons of butter


Add icing sugar and butter in a bowl. Add milk as needed and mix until a think paste is made. Heat in a microwave until warm and smooth (I did so for 40 sec.).

Dip petit fours in the glaze and sit on a rack to let the excess drip down. I laid a sheet of wax paper underneath to catch the icing.