I’m pretty new to getting invites to attend events and I still haven’t developed the willpower to say no to an Associate Media event. These are the fabulous people that handle the Oprah, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and House and Leisure magazines and their PR events (read goodie bags) are legendary.
I met the Digital PR and Social Media Coordinator Jeanne Cupido at the O Magazine Readers Event and her bubbly personality made me want to make a friend for life. So now, when her name pops up in my inbox, I automatically get excited. This time she was inviting me to the Good Housekeeping Celebrity Bake Stars event where I would get to rub shoulders with the ever lovely Jenny Morris again as well as Roxanne Floquet.
The event was also to raise funds for Boyes Helping Hands and the wonderful sponsors raffled off the most amazing prizes. Let’s just say that R250 for a ticket to attend this event was well worth it and the goodie bag was valued at well over R400 which included a R150 Le Creuset voucher that could be spent there and then (at their discounted pop up shop) or later in store or online. I bought a set of 4 ramekins in Marseilles by just adding R10 to my voucher and the RRP is R220 (I mean, really!)
I could go on for hours about this event but let me cut to the chase and tell you how mesmerized I was by Roxanne. Her cakes and biscuits are little works of art that that are far too pretty to eat and it had me itching to start learning this skill. She took us through a quick tutorial on the basics of making sugar cookies and flood icing. I’ve wanted to try flood icing for ages but the idea of making icing with egg whites has made me think twice. Since pasteurized egg whites are essential I turned to those wonderful bottles in the Woolworths fridges that sell these egg whites in a bottle. A bottle is 270ml (R15.99) which is equivalent to 9 egg whites and, what do you know, the recipe for royal icing calls for 250ml of egg whites to 1.5-2kg of icing sugar.
After checking with Twitter about how long fresh egg whites will last in your fridge I established that the 350ml egg whites I had been collecting for the past week was probably a bit dodgy to use raw and those went into a gluten-free chocolate Angel Food cake (recipe coming soon). Egg whites apparently freeze very well and if you find yourself baking a recipe that only uses egg yolks, place each egg white into the hole of an ice cube tray and freeze to use later.
Well, as you can see from the pictures I am going to need lots of practice (and lots of volunteers to eat the ones that don’t turn out so well the first time around). In the meantime, I have emailed Roxanne to be added to her mailing list so that when she starts courses in winter again, I will be first in line.
Vanilla Sugar Biscuits (makes 60 medium sized biscuits)
500g butter, chilled
300g castor sugar
200g icing sugar
5ml vanilla extract
800g cake flour
Place butter, sugars and vanilla is the bowl of a stand mixer. Set mixer to lowest speed and mix until well combined increasing the speed as the butter softens. Add eggs beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between addition. Well eggs are completely incorporated turn mixer off. In a separate bowl sift together flours. Turn mixer on lowest speed again and add flour 1 tablespoonful at a time. If the mixer is too fast the flour will fly everywhere (been there, done that!). Continue adding flour until it has fully incorporated and starts to look like a dough. Turn off mixer and scoop dough into plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Seal well and allow to chill for at least an hour.
Roll out dough to about 4cm thick and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. Place these shapes about 2cm apart on a greased cookie sheet and refridgerate again until firm. Wrap up remaining dough and chill while you are working. I worked with about a quarter of the dough at a time because if you over work the dough (roll it out too many times) the texture of the cookie suffers and you end up with something quite tough. After I rolled it out twice I rolled the scraps into a log and wrapped it in plastic wrap for slice and bake cookies.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and bake off each tray of cookies for a total of 12 minutes rotating the pan at the 8 minute mark and leaving it to bake for a further 4 minutes. As I have said before, get to know your oven. If it still looks a bit pale add another 2 minutes onto the time until it just starts browning at the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet as they will be quite soft and delicate until they cool down completely.
1.5-2kg icing sugar, sifted
250ml egg whites (about 9 fresh eggs or bottled, pasteurised egg whites)
5ml lemon juice
Place sugar in bowl of stand mixer and turn it onto its lowest setting. Add egg whites and lemon and allow to mix for 4 minutes until thick. Don’t increase the speed as you don’t want to add any air into the mixture as this will result in air bubbles coming to the surface when you do your flooding. The mixture should be thick enough to stand upright with a bit of droop when you hold the beater upright. If it runs or drops off the beater you will need to add more sugar. It will need to be quite thick to do the outlines and you will thin it out a bit to do the flooding. At this point you might want to click on this tutorial to get details of how to ice because pictures are worth a thousand words especially at for this task. Try this clip.
Pipe outlines of your cookie shapes about 0.5cm inwards from the edge of the cookie. Allow to dry. Since I was working with a batch of 12 cookies I scooped out about a quarter of the icing and covered the rest with a clean, damp cloth to be stored in the fridge for next time. Thin out remaining icing and colour to your preference. Pipe a small amount of icing into the center of the cookie and allow to spread towards the border. Allow to dry for 2 days for best results.
Recipe found on page 150 Good Housekeeping Magazine August 2013