Learning to Cookie

Baking is something I’ve enjoyed ever since my childhood. There’s nothing better than the smell of a freshly baked cake wafting through the house and filling your tummy with anticipation of what’s to come. As I’ve grown older, baking has moved from a fun weekend activity to a necessity. We have several food intolerances in our house and as anyone with a restricted diet will attest to, it can be incredibly difficult to purchase foods that suit your particular eating issues.

The first cookies I ever made. Round, to keep it simple, with plenty of piping practice!

The first cookies I ever made. Round, to keep it simple, with plenty of piping practice!

In our house, I need to cater for wheat intolerance, lactose intolerance, a shellfish allergy and diabetes on a daily basis. (Even though diabetes in and of itself is not actually a food intolerance or allergy, simply being diabetic means you have to think carefully about all your foods and what goes into them.) In my extended family and friends, I also cater for fructose malabsorption, nut allergies and vegetarian diets when they come to visit. So with all these things in mind, being able to cook (and particularly bake) for myself has become an invaluable skill.

Delicious little dinosaurs and their eggs.

Delicious little dinosaurs and their eggs.

With this in mind, celebrating any sort of special occasion is a bit of a workload for me, because I need to make most, if not everything, completely from scratch. Which brings me around to Orion’s birthday. One of the things I fell in love with when researching skylander themed party food was decorated cookies. I’ve made and eaten cookies before – or rather, what I would now call basic biscuits – but this new world of decorated cookies was something completely new to me. Because of the food accomodations I need to make, things can become very restrictive when I start looking at decorating fancy foods, such as a birthday cake. Most pre-bought icings and certainly most pre-bought cakes are out of the question. I have always managed a certain level of delicious with my baking but my decorating abilities leave an awful lot to be desired.

Mummy and baby butterflies with some writing piping practice.

Mummy and baby butterflies with some writing piping practice.

Not to mention that I don’t really like the taste of those fancy, smooth, cut-me-out type icings. I’d much rather a simple cake with glaze icing, buttercream or ganache. Easier and twice as delicious. Now cookies. These cookies. Well, to my delight, I discovered that the icing was a simple thing I could make myself. From scratch. And all I needed to do was pipe it into the cookie into the designs of my choice. I say only, but I am actually reasonably handy with a piping bag, and piping is one of those skills that really does improve with time and a few youtube sessions.

Enchanted fairies, ladybirds and little fairy puppies.

Enchanted fairies, ladybirds and little fairy puppies.

I hit up Google and stumbled upon a blog called The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. And I was head over heels in love. Her cookies are, without doubt, one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. And in addition to sharing her vast wealth of decorating knowledge, she shares her recipes too. So I stared and I studied and I learnt to cookie. I wanted to make sure I had all the experience I could possibly get before Orion’s birthday arrived, so I made a few batches and experimented with colours and piping techniques in advance. And I have discovered a method of baking that is not only delicious, but within my ability to decorate well. And in the week leading up to Orion’s skylander party? Yup, I made the cookies. And here they are – gluten free, dairy/lactose free, and totally DIY.

The finished product, done with royal icing transfers. (more on that another time)

The finished product, done with royal icing transfers. (more on that another time)

How proud of myself am I? I’d give you the answer on a sliding scale, but I don’t have a sliding scale big enough. (And I should note, these cookies taste way better than they actually look. Yup.) And I already know Orion loves them because he’s single handedly responsible for eating at least half of my learning cookies! So now it’s over to you – has necessity forced you to look outside your comfort zone? Did you discover something amazing in the process?

 

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