On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


2 Comments

DoughEZ Mat

DoughEZMatWhen Dave (Mr Fussy’s good friend from High School) returned from his month-long ski trip to Denver, Colorado, he bought back a number of things I’d ordered from the States. One of those things was the very new to market DoughEZ mat.

Because I had a few cakes to make (still two to write a post for), this weekend was the first I had to focus of cookie things. I’ve made some Chocit roses and flowers, made some royal icing rose transfers, and finally this morning I made some cookie dough, three types in fact, so that I could test drive the DoughEZ mat.

Gingerbread_Chocolate SweetSugarBell_LemonShortbreadI made Sweetapolita’s Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie, my preferred chocolate cookie recipe, Haniela’s Gingerbread cookies (which is an adaption from Sweetopia’s Gingerbread cookie recipe) and SweetSugarBelle’s Basic Sugar Cookie recipe.

I made some changes to Haniela’s recipe. I replaced the honey and molassas for Golden Syrup, and instead for Star Anise I used Allspice. To the chocolate cookies I added Raspberry emulsion (and wished I hadn’t). To the Basic Sugar Cookie recipe (BSCR) I added my usual lemon extract.

Both the Gingerbread and the Chocolate cookie recipes stated to chill the dough first. The BSCR doesn’t need to be chilled. However I always chill the dough, but after having rolled it out. Trying to roll out already chilled dough just hurts my wrists.

So none of the recipes had been chilled, but all of them rested a minimum of 30 minutes. Now it was time to see how the DoughEZ mat behaved with these 3 different recipes. All 3 of them were a softish dough. I could easily press my fingertips into the dough.

Sweetapolita_ChocolateI first cleaned the DoughEZ mat as described and placed the plastic guides under the mat. I used 1/3 of the dough and roughly shaped it into a square/rectangle and got to work. I folded the other half over the top and then rolled away. It was pretty quick work which I was very pleased with.

DoughEZ_ChocolateI carefully peeled back the top layer of the DoughEZ mat and was a bit disappointed that the dough had stuck a little to the surface. The instructions go on to say that you need to place a piece of waxed paper over the surface then flip the whole thing. Now to peel back the other side. Same deal. Bits of dough had stuck to the mat. So again I placed another piece of waxed paper down. It was very easy to just smooth over the surface to get those little peaks of dough back under control.

DoughEZ_GingerbreadNow for me I don’t mind the whole waxed thing because often I roll the dough and then freeze it. I like it to be between sheets of waxed paper. It means when it comes to use it, it’s good to go. I just use a pallet knife to loosen it from the waxed paper, cut my shapes, then I can easily remove the shapes and transfer to the baking tray.

DoughEZ_LemonShortbreadBut one of the big advantages of the DoughEZ mat is meant to be the saving on waxed paper. That you can just peel the mat away, use one piece of waxed paper (primarily to protect the mat) and cut the shapes. Many users of the DoughEZ mat have said they don’t worry about the waxed paper. They cut their shapes out directly on the mat without any damage or difficulty.

My experiment would be a bit one-sided unless I tried my usual method which is to roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper.

WaxedPaper1What I became aware of, which I’ve never noticed, was the noise it makes rolling over waxed paper. It’s actually quite noisey. This is the first time I’ve had any strips to use as a guide. I usually use my Joseph Joseph rolling pin which has guides on the ends to ensure an even thickness of dough. I really like using the strips though. Often the rolling pin will slide rather than roll. It can really get a way on you and you find yourself almost laying over the bench. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but it definitely heads in that direction.

WaxedPaper2The waxed paper behaved as it typically does, which is the bottom piece to crease. Which means you have to flip the dough over, pull the waxed paper out from the dough, lay it flat over the dough and roll again to try and ease the crease out from the dough. And now on thinking about it, it becomes a bit of a hassle to d fix it.

SSB_LemonShortbreadEven though the DoughEZ pulled a bit of the dough away on each side, the process itself was so much quicker and slicker that although not perfect using the dough recipes I used, I will definitely continue with the mat. Who knows, other recipes may perform better, but I like the chocolate and BSCR so I’m happy to use my little white scraper over the surface of the mat to gather up those little bits of dough. It’s not much of an inconvenience.

**** Update ****

Brenda from DoughEZ was kind enough to offer the following suggestions:

Play around with your dough and new Dough EZ system.
Slightly knead your dough on the mat before rolling out.  Place your dough within the mat and use mat cover to partially flatten. Now use your rolling pin and begin to roll out dough as directed stopping halfway thru, before you reach the desired thickness. Slowly peel back mat to see if sticking occurred. Please see photos.( I almost have the cover of the mat flush with itself, when you peel back cover.) Recover and continue to roll to desired thickness.
Depending on your recipe residual sticking may occur during the initial roll out. It should cease during re-rolling process. You should be able to re roll your dough, numerous times with out having issues that normally take place when you use excess flour in the process.
To remedy this, take scraps and run them across the mat and it will pick up these little pieces. If your recipe is extremely sticky or extensive sticking of dough to the mat occurs, then add a small dusting of flour to the mat at the beginning of the rolling process or as needed.
Hope this information helps. For more tips and techniques, check out our video demos or tutorials at www.dough-ez.com.
**** And on another note, I wanted to mention the fabulous communication with Brenda. When I first saw the mat I contacted Brenda about whether she shipped to New Zealand and she came back with a price. Then I made contact a few days later asking if there was any chance the mat could be sent to Dave and gave the date he was to leave Denver. Brenda very kindly got the mat sent sooner than the website suggested and then followed up after it had been despatched. That’s great customer service in my book. Then the email the other day asking how I was getting on, which coincided with this post. It’s great to see a business so interested in how their product is being received. ****


5 Comments

Gingerbread Cookies with faces

FacesI’m really enjoying decorating cookies. Last Christmas was the first time I really got involved in cookies. While I’ve not spent a lot of time over the last 12 months decorating cookies, it’s something that I often want to get back to doing.

This weekend I didn’t have any plans for cakes while meant I was free to tinker about.

Last weekend I stumbled across SweetSugarBelle’s recipe for her favourite Gingerbread. It had been my plan to bake these cookies until I spotted her recipe for Orange Gingerbread. Yum!

I made the cookie dough Thursday evening. It was very soft, just like the recipe said. I wish I knew what the dough was meant to look like. I worried mine was too soft but how would I know? I had nothing to compare to.

What I did like about the dough being this soft was being able to more or less spread it out onto waxed paper. This would make it significantly easier for me to roll, after all the job was mostly done.1311_Gingerbread cookie dough-2-2

Even though the dough had been in the fridge for 24 hours, it was still soft. It had firmed but by the time I had rolled and then cut shapes (3 trays) the dough has softened so much that it was just about impossible to work with. I couldn’t for the life of me get the cut shape pulled away from the surrounding dough. I was almost beside myself with frustration. I got to the point I figured I’d have to toss the dough back into the mixer and add more flour to it.

I had managed to get one tray of cut shapes and the extra dough had been re-rolled. I grabbed my Angel cutter (thanks Mum!) and floured the cutter. I’d not done that with the 3 trays already cut out and put back into the fridge to firm up. What I noticed was how much easier the Angels came away from the surrounding dough. It was enough to give me hope that all was not lost. I got to re-cutting the shapes I’d made with the floured cutter and was now putting the dough into the freezer.

I’m not going to lie, it was still a very fiddly and delicate process, but it was working give or take. I was able to pull away the surrounding dough easier and ease the shapes off the waxed paper (I swapped to baking paper, a safe guard in case I couldn’t get the cookies off, I could at least just shove the whole lot, as is, into the oven). The cookies baked for 7 minutes before I turned the tray away and then cooked a further 2 minutes.

This was the first time I cut dough without a cutter. I know it’s not an alarming event, but it was something I’d not done before. Add to that I modified a cookie shape, it was a night for all out kitchen adventure.

I used my ornament cutter but then used a small egg shape cutter to lop off the pointed end of the ornament to make a nice rounded oval shape.

I had seen these cookies on SweetSugarBelle’s blog and I was going to try my hand at them.

It wouldn’t have hurt me to re-look at the faces again. I’m way off on the eyelashes. And talking of eyelashes. I made an absolute mess of the one girl (far left). I covered it up by applying more of the same flesh coloured royal icing over top, but as you can see, it’s still hideous. And none of the eyelashes are right. Oh well. There’ll be another time I’m sure, and I’ll learn from this experience 🙂Boys and Girls

The egg cutter was used for the boys faces. Because I’m really bad at piping lines I used another round cookie cutter and my PME scribe tool to mark the shape so that I could use it as a guide when I piped the icing. I did this one the girls faces also. It worked well.

The royal icing I made last weekend I didn’t like. This weekend I used the recipe off SSB’s website, but I replaced the Meringue powder with the egg albumen. I halved the recipe too. Because the recipe is in cups, I had to weigh out ¾ of a cup of egg albumen to work out what half of that would be in grams. So to save you the worry, it’s 33gm for a ½ recipe, or 66gm for the full.

So far I’m liking the royal icing. I’m finding it to be the best to move and coax into a more smooth curve or line or whatever the shape it is I’m trying to follow. What I did find is that it had softened overnight. When I made it, it was so stiff that even as I was shaking the whisk attachment it wasn’t budging the peaks of the meringue. The recipe said to whisk for 7-10 minutes but I had reached the right point (no pun intended) at 5 ½ minutes. Next time I’ll whisk longer so that the next morning (this assumes I’m not using it immediately) it’s still stiff enough that it’s “medium consistency”. Before going to bed (and it was very late thanks to the drama with the cookie dough) I had added orange juice (I used the juice from the orange that I used the zest for the cookie dough) to thin the RI out a bit. I felt it was still stiffer than what I really needed, but given it relaxed overnight it was perfect for 20 count flood consistency. The only down side was I didn’t have any medium consistency RI. I’ve had to add more icing sugar to the colours I need as medium consistency.

Last weeks batch of RI, also made with egg albumen, had a slightly weird taste. Adding the orange juice to thin this batch out overcame that, and adding more icing sugar also does the same trick, it masks that weird taste. So with a few tweaks to how long I whisk it, I think I’m about as close to getting the best RI I’ve used to date. And I’m very happy to have a recipe that works with egg albumen rather than meringue powder.

Back to the cookie dough. It really spreads. I mean look at these photos. What a shame. I all but lost every part of definition on the bear. This is a cookie cutter Yvonne bought back from Holland, and my first time using it.1311_Speading out-2-2

The 3.5” circles (to use to make snow globes like these from SweetAmbs) ended up larger than the next size cutter up. The first snow globe shapes I made were the ones that flatly refused to seprate from the waxed paper, in the end I had to place the shapes onto the Silpat upside down and then peel the waxed paper off the shapes. You can see that they’re pretty rough, no nice smooth surface from being rolled over. It wasn’t really a big deal given they’d be covered in RI. But you can see the difference between those early shapes, then those that I re-cut with a floured cutter.1311_Expansion-2-2

When I went to bed my mind wouldn’t stop working (plus I was feeling really sick) I wasn’t happy with the amount of spread and the loss of definition. I also wasn’t totally sure the cookies were cooked as much as the smaller shapes. I decided I would put them back into the oven in the morning which would also have the edges soften then trim them up. And it worked pretty well actually. I don’t have a photo of them because they’re in a state of half decoration. I had one last tray of cookies in the freezer. You know even having been in the freezer all night, they were still not frozen.

I have to say the cookies taste so nice baked. The dough unbaked had a strong orange taste, the orange essence (it has orange oil in it) was almost overpowering. But baked these cookies are so close to Griffins Gingernuts that if I were blindfolded I’d not have been able to tell the difference other than the consistency of the cookie. These aren’t quite so tough to bite into. They certainly have a crunch, but not that dense worry that you might actually break a tooth before you get the upper hand of a Griffins Gingernut. Or am I the only one that has those thoughts eating a Gingernut?

I had no guide or idea how I was going to decorate the “boys”. All I had to go on was the etched circle that I’d made to ensure I didn’t botch the icing. The easiest thing for me to do was to do what you see. Make winter hats.
Girls and Boys

Icing is a very slow process. When you’re not doing wet on wet you have to wait a sensible amount of time to let the colour dry before you add another colour next to it. This way there’s no running into the colour and can achieve a more 3D/texture.

Decorating cookies isn’t really for those who don’t have patience, and an ability to leave enough alone. It drove me nuts. I just wanted to get on with it. Even when I thought I’d waited long enough, it still wasn’t long enough. The little white nonpareils still adhered to the blue “hats” even though they showed no sign of being wet. Using a soft brush to sweep the white should have knocked them off, but they seemed to be stuck by some invisible glue.

Despite some ooops moments they’re not too bad, and they were kinda fun to decorate.

I’m looking forward to finishing the snow globes tomorrow. I’m itching to them finished but I have to wait for the RI gingerbread men to completely dry out. As you can imagine, I’ve tested “doneness” several times during the course of the day and I’ve managed to crack one (I made spares) in testing, so I’ve resigned myself to this being tomorrow’s activity.

As for the Orange Gingerbread recipe, I made some changes:

  • Swapped molasses for golden syrup
  • Swapped brown sugar for Muscovado sugar
  • Used 1/8 teaspoon of ground white pepper (noticeable in raw dough, not baked)
  • I only have normal Crisco (who knew there were differences?) so added 1 teaspoon of Lorann Butter emulsion

I’m going to tinker with the recipe. I love the flavour, but I’ll cry if I have to work with that consistency again, and I’m not fond of the amount of spread. I’ll go to the Lila Lola recipe I’ve used and combine the spices, swap the all sugar for the sugars and golden syrup and add more flour. I’m ditching the baking soda in place of the baking powder in Lila Lola’s Vanilla Variation Cookie recipe.

Watch this space!

And in case you’ve been sceptical about colouring RI with red and black and never seeming to reach the right depth, you’ve probably heard that the colours intensive over time (usually a couple of hours minimum), well here’s the black. I used Sugarflair Liquorice (love Sugarflair, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before) which made this lovely dove grey, and then this is the colour after it has sat the rest of the day. It’s a bit hard to see clearly through the Gladwrap so you’ll have to take my word for it. It’s black.1311_The passage of time-2-2

Ooh, here’s a couple of “bonus” photos. Here’s the RI corner of the kitchen bench. So many disposable bags. I think 7, plus there’s a couple of Gladwrapped “packages” of RI in the tea towel. Check out how many face clothes I’m using to help keep the RI from drying out. Go me!Kitchen mess

And just when you think you’ve finally reached the end, here’s Santa Mark II. I’m undecided about his legs. His body isn’t attached to the legs so I’ve got time to change them for shorter thicker legs. I just don’t know if I will. I find the shoes really difficult. I don’t know if I want to subject myself to a third pair. I’ll leave making a decision so long that I’ll just attach his body. What a cop out 😉

Santa Mark II


2 Comments

Gingerbread Cupcakes–the last treat for work

Part of what inspired me to make gingerbread cookies was a recipe I’d seen for Gingerbread cupcakes. Those were decorated with gingerbread cookies.

The frosting was also piped on with the “poop” nozzle (Wilton 12) with some left over frosting I had in the freezer, so I was more or less set.

GBCC1

I found some nice cupcake liners at Spotlight, in fact two different types, and some mini liners (I’ve put my chocolate truffles in them) so hopefully there was no doubt as to the theme of these.

The original recipe called for Molasses but I wasn’t a fan of the taste of the cookies I made so I went for Treacle. I’m not a fan of that either, but I had plenty in the tin and there’s no better way of getting rid of it than using it.

Ingredients

This was another recipe where oil was used. And since I still think the inclusion of oil in place of some butter is a great idea it added another 1/2 point as to why this recipe was the right one for me.

BeforeAfter-2

I tried again (and failed again) to get the cupcakes flat. Even looking at the colour of the cupcakes there’s two different shades. I suspect that was from the two different pans that I used, one is metal, the other silicone.

GBCC

I’m throwing this photo in for good measure because I like the reflections of the gingerbread in the glass. It’s the little things.

Here’s the recipe, word for word (with the exception of conversions as makes sense for NZ) from the original blog post. Other than swapping the Molasses for Treacle, there were no other changes I made.

Though the recipe says it makes 18, I got 23 cupcakes.

Gingerbread Cupcakes from Babble

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tsp. ground ginger
    2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. allspice
    1/4 tsp. salt
    58gm butter, softened
    1/4 cup canola oil
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
    2 large eggs
    2 tsp. baking soda

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 180°C.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and salt. In a large bowl beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and eggs until smooth. Put the baking soda into a small bowl or liquid (you’ll need extra room – it bubbles up) measuring cup, and add 3/4 cup boiling water.
  • Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until blended. Add half the water mixture in the same way, then another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the water mixture and the rest of the dry ingredients, blending just until combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are springy to the touch.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

 

I found the cookies sitting on the icing overnight actually softened them just a bit, the crispness was just right, and as a bonus it seemed to sweeten the cookies too. The Molasses wasn’t quite so harsh.

Along with the Lemon Shortbread and Blueberry and Lemon Scrolls, this was the last lot of baking the work teams would have for the year. Boo hoo.

GBCC3


Leave a comment

Gingerbread Cookies

Here’s another thing I’m learning about baking at this time of the year. Again through Pinterest and following certain food bloggers on Twitter, December (or post Thanksgiving) is all about baking cookies. Again another thing that I think is typically American.

I’ve never made Gingerbread cookies. I had to buy cookie cutters. And my lovely dear friend Yvonne surprised me with a cookie cutter all the way from Holland.

I do find we’re lacking in certain things in New Zealand. I guess we’ve yet to get on the cookie cutter bandwagon. Although today I found a better selection on the Cake Shop’s website. I ordered several cookie cutters, especially the snow flake. They will arrive too late for this year, but next year I’ll be well and truly sorted.

I decided to follow advice I’d read over several posts on Gingerbread cookies and toss out all my old spices and buy fresh spices. I found most of what I wanted at the Mediterranean Food Company. I would have gone to a supermarket that sold the Spice Trader spices too, but I was heading to the MFC for other stuff so it made sense to buy from there.

Gingerbread-2

I also had to buy Molasses. I did toss up whether to use the Treacle that I had in the pantry. But I opted for going the “American way” and following the recipe to the “T”.

Gingerbread Cookies by Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1½ tsp. baking powder
    ½ tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1½ tsp. ground cloves
    2 tsp. ground ginger
    1 tsp. ground nutmeg
    16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup molasses
    1 large egg

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices to combine; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Mix in the molasses and egg until combined.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
  • Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least one hour.
  • Heat the oven to 180°Celsius.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness.
  • Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  • Place the cookie shapes onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
  • Decorate as desired.

Gingerbread1

This recipe makes a LOT. The recipe also says to put the dough into the fridge. Well I put it into the freezer in little logs (wrapped in Glad Wrap). Because I’m using little cookie cutters I got so many out of a little amount of Gingerbread dough.

Unfortunately I didn’t turn my tray half way through cooking so those cookies closest to the back of the over overcooked. We still ate them.

Cookies-2

These cookies are quite crunch, but not hard, break your teeth sort of crunchy.

And look at that cute Christmas Tree. When I saw it I commented that it looked like it was from a Dr. Seuss book. It just had the quirky look to me. And given my favourite book in the whole wide word is I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I was chuffed to get this cookie cutter.

XmasTree

The cookie dough in the photo above is from one of the logs of dough I froze. This is a week later. It tastes no different and cooked just the same.

For me these cookies have quite a bitter taste. I’m pretty sure it’s the Molasses. It’s not my favourite Gingerbread flavour, but since I was making the cookies for another cupcake recipe I had (post coming) I wasn’t too concerned. I don’t think I would want to chow down on a batch of these, but to use as decorations/ornaments they’re perfect. Atop the cupcakes I made they also took on a slightly different taste, they weren’t quite as bitter thanks to the icing that had done two things, softened the cookie and added a little sweetness to it.

It’s always good to try new things, next year I’ll tweak the recipe, either use Golden Syrup or Treacle and perhaps change the spices a little. But as for the dough came together nicely so I’m really happy with the consistency.

Of course I have not now think about icing the cookies. I ordered another couple of Wilton #1 tips today so that I can make up several different colours of Royal Icing and give another new thing a go. Somehow I think  I’ll need a lot of luck, and a steadier hand than I have.