A few months ago, I spent some time doing volunteer work in Kenya through the volunteer agency International Volunteer HQ. I stayed with a Kenyan family and volunteered at an orphanage, Internally Displaced Persons camps, and with the Masai (warrior tribes in Kenya). It was an extremely moving experience. Read more.

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    Guest Post on Frosting for the Cause

    Filed under :Cookies, Desserts, Frosting for the Cause, Sugar Cookies
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    Today I’m guest posting on Frosting for the Cause.  A big thank you to Paula for the beautiful cause and for letting me participate.  365 bloggers are baking sugar cookies or cupcakes in support of cancer research, and I’m honoured to be a part of it.

    Daring Bakers- Decorating Sugar Cookies

    Filed under :Cookies, Daring Bakers, Icing, Sugar Cookies
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    decorating cookies

    One of my better ones!

    The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

    I was super excited for this one because I love the idea of decorating my own cookies.  Never having decorated any baked goods before, though, I certainly underestimated the difficulty of making even the simplest of designs, as you can easily see from the pics.

    We were challenged to use a recipe for sugar cookies from Peggy Porschen.  I adapted it somewhat as I found it called for WAY too much flour, and even reducing the flour already, my dough was quite crumbly and difficult to work with (although it did come out tasty!), so I’ve adjusted the flour amount even further in the below recipe.

    I bought ready-made icing, sprinkles, luster dust, etc, and set to work decorating.  I cut the cookies in leaf shapes, intending to do beautiful September colours and autumn leaves.  Alas, it didn’t work out, but I did have a  great time.  I also cut a few owl and circle shapes for variety.

    Basic Sugar Cookies – adapted from Peggy Porschen via the Daring Kitchen

    1/2 cup PLUS 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

    2  3/4 cups flour (plus an additional 1/4 cup for use if needed)

    1 cup superfine sugar

    1 egg

    1 tsp vanilla

    Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in egg.  Don’t overmix!  Add the flour and mix until a non-sticky dough forms.  Add the additional 1/4 cup if needed.

    Knead the dough into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.  Roll the dough out on parchment paper to about 1/2 inch thick.  Stack the dough and parchment paper on a baking sheet and refrigerate 30 minutes.

    Cut shapes out of the dough with cookie cutters and place on parchment paper.  Re-roll dough scraps and keep cutting shapes until there’s no dough left.  Refrigerate shapes for another 30- 60 minutes (note: the extra refrigeration ensures the cookies don’t spread when baking).

    leaf cookies

    leaf shaped cookies

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place cookies on lightly greased baking sheets and bake until edges are golden brown, about 10- 13 minutes.

    Cool.  Once cooled, decorate as desired.

    sprinkles, icing

    all my decorating equipment

    sugar cookies

    the finished product