Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Union Jack {British Flag} Sugar Cookies

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee
A celebration surely to remember.
Since this is the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee across the world in England, a 60th birthday falling in the same year would naturally have to be a jubilee of its own.
I made these fun Union Jack cookies for my Aunt Peggy's 60th Birthday High Tea Jubilee and it surely was a labor of love.

Every time I make decorated sugar cookies, I forget how freakin' long it takes! Sheesh!
I am no wiz at decorating cookies (and as you can see I could definitely use some more practice with straight lines) so it probably takes me a lot longer than others.
So I guess this is just a warning, These cookies turn out really fun and festive and really aren't that hard but make sure you have time! I do it over a couple days actually to split it up a bit. It works. :)

To make these cookies:
I actually just made my own cookie cutter since it was just a rectangle. I love the little Make-Your-Own-Cookie-Cutter Kit I got last year. I have the exact one shown below. It really is awesome for saving time and money. Plus it really is a lot easier than you think.

Click Picture for more info.
After I made the cookies (recipes below) and allowed them to cool, I stacked them in between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container until I was ready to decorate them. 

The next day I made the royal icing. I thinned it out to a medium consistency and separated into 3 bowls. Using water-based coloring gel, tint the icing to the desired color. I used 1 and a half bottles of no-taste red gel to get it red and not pink. I didn't have to use as much blue.
Put them in squeeze bottles and go to town.
I drew in the red, then white, then blue. I did the red on a bunch of cookies so they could start to dry a bit and then went back and did the blue, etc. The trick is getting straight lines and not bleeding. I thinned my icing a little too thin and it caused me some issues but it was a little later than I would have liked so I went with it. They turned out pretty cute all the same. Don't ya think?!
Since these cookies were party favors, I put them in an individual bag and tied it with a silver ribbon representing the diamond. Fer cute!
Cheers then.

Rolled Sugar Cookies
Yields: 2-3 dozen 3 inch cookies depending on thickness
26.5 oz (6 cups) flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add in the vanilla and eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients. This is a pretty hefty dose of dough for a mixer so make sure yours is up to the task. I'm not buying you a new one. Mix until the dough comes together or your mixer starts to smoke. (I'm just's not that bad.)
You can choose either of the next steps. They will both work fine.
Method #1: Place your dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a rectangle. Chill your dough until thoroughly cold (more than 3 hours but preferably overnight. Roll out and cut cookies with cutters.
Method #2: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out onto a floured/sugared surface until desired thickness. (1/4-1/2 inch thick) These cookies will basically stay the same thickness you roll them. Cut the dough with cookie cutters and using a thin metal spatula, transfer the shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet placing about 1 inch apart. There is no need for parchment paper or pam or anything and in all actuality I have found that these methods cause the cookies to spread more....makes sense. Place your cookie sheet in the fridge and continue onto filling the next cookie sheet. By the time you reroll and place the cookies on the next cookie sheet, your first batch of dough will be chilled enough to slide into the oven!
*I actually use a combination of the methods above: I put the dough in the fridge until just slightly firm (less than an hour...probably while I clean up my mess) and that makes it a bit easier to roll out and not stick as much. Then I proceed with method 2. *
Note: You want sugar cookie dough chilled thoroughly before going into the oven so it will hold its shape. If the dough is not cold, the butter will melt too quickly and cause the cookie to melt and spread before the structure of the cookie is set up. Chilling does a great job of preventing this.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes for a 3-4 inch cookie or until the cookie looks dry on top. Your cookies should not brown. They will stay a beautiful pale color if you cook them correctly. If your cookies start to brown, take them out! If they are've gone to far. If they are darker than brown, then you have probably already smelled the smoke. I cook 1 sheet at a time because I use method number 2 above and it just works out wonderfully but you can cook 2 sheets at a time if needed.

Royal Icing
By Sweet Dani B
Yields: 5 cups
1/2 cup meringue powder
1 cup cold water
2 lb powdered sugar
Food coloring (water-based)
Make sure you have a very clean glass or metal bowl to make your icing in. Using a strong handmixer and the beater attatchment, beat together the meringue powder and the water until you see good trails where the beater has been. Using a beater attachment instead of a whisk will decrease the amount of bubbles you create by a lot! Slowly beat in sugar until well blended and you see trails again. This icing will be pretty stiff. At this point you can separate any amount that you would like to keep for a stiffer icing for piping borders and such. {I did not do this and probably should have this time}
Thin the rest of your icing with a small amount of water until it is the right consistency.
Note: The key to royal icing is to get it to the right consistency so that it will smooth out on the cookie but not spill all over the sides. To test your mixture, make some trails from the mixer and then give the bowl a jiggle and see if the trails settle. They should settle slowly after light jiggling. If not, then it is going to be too thick for flooding. Continue to mix in water if needed. If you have put so much water in that it no longer makes trails that stay then you might need to thicken it up with some powdered sugar.
You can use a stiff icing to pipe borders and then use a very thin icing to flood the cookie or use a medium consistency and do it all with one icing. I tend to do this more often.
Separate the estimated correct amount of icing needed for each color into separate bowls and color with a water-based food coloring until you get your desired colors.
Put the icing in separate squeeze bottles.

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