If there’s one thing to know about me it’s that I love learning. I’m a visual learner so, in the age of the Internet, YouTube has become my best friend. It’s amazing, really, how many different kinds of things you can learn on YouTube these days. There are so many passionate people out there making videos about things they care about! Here are some actual snippets of my YouTube search history:
- “How to add a color knitting”
- “How to use the Uber app”
- “How to braid a weeping fig”
- “How to cut a tree slab”
- “Replant phalaenopsis orchid”
- “Royal icing flood consistency”
This last one led me down my latest rabbit hole. Anne’s mom shared the most delicious sugar cookie recipe from her friend a few years ago, and Anne and I like to experiment with making different shaped cookies and decorations. I found one YouTube channel by Julia M. Usher, a well-regarded baker with a specialty in making cookies, that offered a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Since Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, I thought I’d give royal icing a try with these sugar cookie hearts.
First things first: Make Laura Kutill’s sugar cookies! I hope I meet her someday to thank her in person for this incredible recipe.
Laura Kutill's Delicious Sugar Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes per batch | Yields: 6-7 dozen cookies
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Add half of the dry ingredients and incorporate. Add remaining.
Cut dough into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2+ hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll the dough 3/16″ thick on a floured surface. Cut out the cookies and place on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges begin to turn a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
From Scissors & Sage
Seven Steps to Flawless Rolled Cookies (via Julia M. Usher)
- Work with cold dough.
- Lightly flour work surface.
- Use a good, heavy rolling pin.
- Rotate dough while rolling.
- Roll dough relatively thin, 3/16″.
- Transfer cutouts with an offset spatula.
- Rotate for even browning.
Julia also shared her recipe for royal icing, as well as how to change the consistency for outlining, top-coating, and flooding cookies. Below are her clues to making excellent icing.
Royal Icing & Consistency Alterations (via Julia M. Usher)
- 2 lbs powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 5 large egg whites
Using the beater attachment, combine powdered sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in egg whites and mix at low speed. Scrape down sides before increasing to high speed for 1-2 minutes. Icing will go from a gray to white in color due to increased air circulation in icing.
If desired, flavor the icing (i.e. incorporate 1 tsp of vanilla or lemon extract).
Makes 4 cups icing, which is enough to cover several dozen cookies.
Note: Color the icing once the “glue” is distributed into smaller bowls.
For 1 cup of “glue,” add 1/2 to 3/4 tsp water. Mix gently. The icing should fall in globs off of the spoon.
Top Coating Consistency
For 1 cup of “glue,” add 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tsps water. Mix gently. The icing should flow slowly off of the spoon and create tracks in the icing that disappear after 15 seconds.
Note: Use this icing for covering cookies without outlining first.
For 1 cup of “glue,” add 2 to 3 tsps water. Mix very gently so as not to create air bubbles. Tap down bowl on counter to help. The icing should run off the spoon a bit faster than top coat, and tracks in icing should disappear in 10 seconds.
Note: If icing is too watered down, sift powdered sugar into the mixture.
From Scissors & Sage
All in all, I’m really glad that I tried making royal icing. It certainly took a long time to get through all 90 cookies I made, but the end result was worth it. Now I get to share my cookies with friends and family this weekend!
PS) I decided to try making Julia’s parchment pastry cones rather than use the canvas pastry bag we have. She walks you through the steps to make these simple bags, and I have to say it was very worth it. You get to just throw the bags away when you’re done rather than clean out the canvas.