Weeks like this I love my life so very much. But weeks like this also wear me down to the point where I run to Starbucks (gasp) and order a caffeinated Americano (double gasp)!!!
I’m currently in rehearsals for two productions – a benefit of Jesus Christ Superstar that’s happening this Saturday benefiting Smith Street Stage and a play in the Hamptons I started on this week. I also am running / ran to my family’s in CT to celebrate the Easter holiday and am covering some writing gigs / an interview for a new gig.
So obviously I had to spend one day in the kitchen cutting, baking, piping and flooding 75 cookies in the shape of crosses. I mean, what else does a gal do when she’s got an insane week?
Oh, and I’m also returning to the city tonight to prep my gluten-free Portuguese masa bread dough to be baked Friday morning for Easter on Sunday and collecting ingredients to drive to the Lower East Side and make malasadas (Portuguese fried dough / donuts) for a party after the Superstar benefit Saturday eve. That is, the dough will somehow be made between rehearsal and dressing for the event and they’ll be fried after… in a small black dress and very high shoes.
Like I said, love and coffee.
But for now I can take a deep breath and look out at the water from my view in this beautiful house I’m staying in while rehearsing out in Westhampton – my director’s house is really one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, with an overflowing vegetable garden, art from all over the world, old furniture and rugs and an incredible energy. I can be thankful, and quiet for a bit, and reflect on how much fun it was to cut, pipe and flood all these cookies before sticking them into bags. I didn’t get to letter them as I had wanted to, as I literally just ran out of time in my week. But I’m satisfied.
No recipe to post today, just links and tips for cutout cookies.
Classic Sugar Cookies Recipe from Saveur Magazine
Tips for successful cut-out sugar cookies:
- Get your butter soft, but not completely at room temperature. I usually microwave mine for about 30 seconds, turning halfway through, to get it soft. Too warm and it will practically liquify.
- Cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Not long enough and they won’t provide enough structure when baking.
- Only mix dough until incorporated.
- Refrigerate. I know sometimes dough is firm enough that you could just roll and cut, but this will change the texture when baking and contribute to loss of shape.
- After cutting, stick back into the fridge on cookie sheets and let sit until the oven is hot. Continue rolling and fridging successive sheets – don’t let them sit at room temperature. Keeping the butter in the cookies cold prevents spreading when they’re baking.
- Make sure your sheets are cold between rounds: I wash and stick mine in the freezer for a few.
- Refrigerate dough for a little bit before rolling again. The Saveur recipe is great at having you split the dough up into four disks instead of two, so you can always have something chilling while rolling something else.
- This recipe made me 80 cookies about 4 inches high!
I used a basic royal icing recipe with Meringue powder. If you haven’t used meringue powder or powdered egg whites before, I highly recommend them. They make getting a stiff but workable icing so much easier, with greater room for dusty mistakes!
I used a classic proportion of 4 cups of powdered sugar per 3 tablespoons of meringue powder. I whipped them in my standing mixer and then added about 6 tablespoons of warm water. At about 6 tablespoons it was perfect for piping.
- Keep the icing covered in a towel between separating / changing consistency
- Don’t worry about over or under watering – add more sugar or water as necessary
- Always mix this thoroughly – when it comes to stiff peaks and has a glossy shine, it’s ready. For me this took about 7 minutes on medium/high speed.
- I found my piping texture to be a little looser than recipes I looked at – loose enough that it flowed too much out of a pastry bag. So I used a paintbrush with ease, glopping some on and then spreading it around. It set and dried smoothly.