My SWEET Idea: Learning Project Introduction

Welcome to the beginning of my learning project! For this project, I have decided to tackle sugar cookie decorating.

Cakes my friends and I created for the annual cake auction in 2012 (The Mario cake won cake of the year!)

From a young age, I have always been interested and passionate about baking. My mother is a self-taught baker and growing up, I followed her footsteps by helping in the kitchen anytime I had the chance. When I got to high school, the social justice group at my school held an annual cake auction to raise money for an organization called WaterCan (now WaterAid Canada). Being an active member of the social justice group, I teamed up with a group of friends to bake and decorate a cake – which then became an annual thing. However, my love and passion for baking and cake decorating didn’t stop there. After graduating high school in 2014, I worked as a baker at a local cupcake shop in my hometown, Saskatoon. At the same time, I also started my very own home-based, government-licensed, custom cake and cupcake business called Mikakes (a combination of my name and the word cakes – my 17-year-old self thought it was clever). I ran this business while I completed the Early Childhood Education course at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, but sadly had to put it on pause when I moved to Regina in the fall of 2017 to pursue my Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Regina. Although this was the case, I still continue making custom cakes and cupcakes for close friends and family.

Wedding cake I made in August 2018.

With all that being said, the reason why I have decided to explore cookie decorating is because it has always been something I wanted to try, but kept pushing aside. I have had friends, family members, and even customers encourage me to try it out in the past, but my focus was always on cakes and cupcakes. I feel that this is the perfect opportunity to test it out. Plus, I have most of the materials I need for it already!

My Plan…

Since this project is an ongoing process, I decided to break it up into phases. Since sugar cookie decorating is something I have looked into before, but never actually tried to do, I do have a little bit of background knowledge which I used to form the phases.

Phase 1: Learning the basics

This phase will be all about research. I will be doing research on recipes and techniques, as well as tools and ingredients I will be needing. To help me in this phase, I will be going through the Bearfoot Baker’s Beginners Guide to Cookie Decorating. This guide offers videos, recipes, tips and tricks on the basics of cookie decorating. I will also use The Simple, Sweet Life’s blog post that offers advice on cookie decorating.

Phase 2: Finding the perfect cookie recipe

Obviously, I will be needing to find a good sugar cookie recipe. The cookies I have seen on Pinterest and Instagram are always cut so perfectly. With that, I believe that the perfect cookie recipe is one that will hold its shape after it is baked – something that will not puff up or spread. In order to find this recipe, I will need to do some testing in the kitchen. However, to make things a little easier, I will be using Pinterest and Google to find some recipes to try out.

Phase 3: Learning about royal icing (recipes and consistencies)

Royal icing is the type of icing that is most commonly used for sugar cookie decorating. I have tried making my own to use on a cake using fresh egg whites, however, it did not go so well. With that, I will be trying out meringue powder as an alternative. Sally’s Baking Addiction offers a simple recipe that uses meringue powder instead of egg whites. I have tried a few of her recipes in the past, so I am feeling pretty confident in trying out her royal icing recipe.

To help myself become familiar with the different icing consistencies and how to achieve each consistency, I will watch YouTube videos for guidance. TheCoolCookieShow demonstrates in this video the three different consistencies and what each consistency is used for and Cookielicious NZ demonstrates in this video how to achieve each consistency.

Phase 4: Learning Techniques

This phase will include learning and practicing several icing techniques. To help with this phase, I will be searching YouTube for tutorials when needed.

Phase 5: Custom Designs

This will be the phase where it all comes together. I will use all the knowledge I have gained to create (hopefully) beautiful cookies. For cookie inspiration, I will be exploring Pinterest and Instagram (#sugarcookiesofinstagram).

Going into this learning project, I understand that this plan may change as some phases may take longer than others or things may not go as planned – but that is all part of the learning process and I am so excited to get started!

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