Last time we spoke, I let you in on my little secret: that I’m a science geek, too.
Science is really important when baking. It gets you the form that you want. On the other hand, there is also an art to baking. Especially the kind of baking you’ll find on here. Of course, you might think of art as re-creating our favorite geeky icons, but there’s a bit more to it than just that.
Flavor. I mean, they can be pretty, but we also have to eat what we make in in the end.
Here’s where you can have fun. There’s a lot of ways to add flavor to something these days. There are extracts and concentrates for everything. You can use citrus zests, flavored liqeurs, jams and jellies, as well as anything else you could think of. Add them to your batters and dough. Add them to your icing. You can use only a single note, like plain vanilla, or you can play mix and match to create depth of flavor.
We all know some tried and true flavor combinations that no one should be afraid of. For example: Peanutbutter and Jelly (or Chocolate, duh), Chocolate and Coffee, Lemon and Raspberry. Honey and Lavender is delicious in bread. Sage and Blackberry is deceptively good in tea. Sage and Lemon, even, is good in a shortbread cookie. I had a friend single-handedly devour that batch when I made it. Even, bear with me, Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar is delicious. It so is.
Just make sure that when adding these flavors you account for any extra moisture or dryness in your recipe. Adding too much liquid flavoring can cause your batter to become too runny while a bevy of dry flavor can create something too crumbly. Finding the sweet spot is key in all things, right?
Once all is said and baked, then comes the art of decoration. As I displayed with my Sailor Moon cookies, I used wax paper to draw and cut out a template for my cookie shapes. This kept me from spending a lot on cookie cutter clutter. Feel free to print your desired shape off the internet and trace over it with the wax paper. Then you have a reference photo nearby when decorating!
For piped cookies, draw your templates directly onto the paper with enough space between each so that the cookies don’t touch each other while baking, but don’t cut it out. You can simply lay the (preferably) parchment paper onto the cookie sheet and pipe your cookies directly onto the paper before throwing the whole shebang into the oven. This works well with Macarons and Spritz cookies.
Later, once all is cool, you can use buttercream frosting, royal icing, sprinkles, edible glitter (yeah, that’s real), and fondant to make your cookies geeky and pretty. I saw a DIY where one baker used fondant to cut out and make her own Sailor Moon inspired sprinkles. With a few supplied from your craft shop we could do something cool like that, too!
All in all, have fun in the kitchen. There will be failures. It happens with any venture. Just be sure to laugh it off and try again. For Christmas, Mom and I (both seasoned bakers) left a pan of cookies in the oven for about an hour. We laughed, tossed them away, and went on with our baking. Shit happens.