Sweet Autumn Treats
Downhome's production manager, Paulette Emberley, has baking skills that are truly legendary around the office. It isn't unusual to overhear staff members begging her to bring in some of her famous treats. Below is her simple recipe for tasty iced cookies, as well as some of her baking secrets.
Sweet Autumn Treats
1 cup butter (or margarine)
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
Preheat oven to 400Â°F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, then add vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture one cup at a time. The dough should be stiff and may need to be mixed by hand. If the dough is too stiff you can add water a teaspoon at a time. Dough does not need to be chilled. Divide dough in two. On a floured surface, roll out dough to approx. 1/8-1/4 in. thickness. Using cookie cutters dipped in flour, cut out cookies, place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake on centre oven rack for 6-7 min. or until lightly browned. (Makes 20-24 cookies)
Icing sugar (500g bag)
Milk (fresh or canned)
Food colouring gels (not liquid colouring - very important)
Place a cup of icing sugar in a bowl and mix in a few teaspoons of milk. To achieve a thicker icing for outlining cookies, add only a few drops of milk at a time. Tint icing by adding food colouring gel. Place some icing in a decorating bag fitted with an outlining tip and trace around cookies. To fill in cookies, thin icing by adding more milk. Spread onto cookies after the outline has hardened. Let iced cookies dry overnight.
Paulette's Baking Tips
Pure vanilla gives a much nicer flavour than artificial vanilla.
Using butter results in a better-tasting cookie than using margarine.
Always dust cookie cutters with flour before using - especially plastic ones, since dough tends to stick more to them.
A heavy rolling pin (I use a marble one) is great for getting the dough an even thickness.
If using fresh milk for icing, it should be at room temperature.
Canned milk turns yellow, so it is not good to use when you want a white icing.
To tint icing I recommend using food colouring gels because liquid colourings can thin out the icing, and do not achieve a true colour.
To add food colouring gel to icing dip a toothpick into the bottle and add by stirring the toothpick around in the icing.
If you don't have a decorating bag, place some icing in a baggie and snip off a corner to ice cookies.
A jam spreader works well for spreading the icing over a cookie.
Paulette's Icing Tips (For Cakes or Cookies)
Mix icing sugar at low speed to avoid icing sugar dust.
Scrape bowl occasionally to mix all dry ingredients that may stick to sides of bowl.
To make chocolate icing darker, add melted chocolate squares (one or two 1-oz size).
Cutting rounded tops off of cake layers (use a large knife with a serrated edge, like a bread knife) will make cake easier to level, and will give a nice flat top to your cake.
Place flat bottom layer of cake on dish and then match other layer so that it fits perfectly flat. Once the two layers fit perfectly together, fill with icing between two layers and then add top layer.
Ice the top of layered cake first, starting with a nice heap of icing in centre and working out towards the edge with a cake spatula. Sides can be done after the top is complete, being sure to keep spatula perfectly flat against cake to achieve a smooth side. Some small holes are unavoidable and sometimes when working with a dark cake and light icing, there will also be some visible dark crumbs. Simply cover with dots of chocolate buttercream fudge icing.
Swirl chocolate rosettes onto top of cake with a star tip on an icing bag; use a round icing tip for the side dots.
If you don't have a decorating bag, place some icing in a baggie and snip off a corner to ice cake.