Friday, 10 June 2011

Peggy's Favourite Cakes and Cookies Review.... And Some News!

If you're a fan of cake and cookie decorating, then you'll no doubt have heard of Peggy Porshen before now.  Peggy is an absoloute master at cake and cookie decorating.  Her designs are simple, yet elegant, which makes them the perfect learning tools for people wanting to learn about cake and cookie decorating.  

Photo courtesy of Peggy Porschen


Peggy has released numerous cake and cookie decorating books, and her latest book titled Peggy's Favourite Cakes and Cookies is essentially that - a compilation of her favourite cakes and cookies from her previous books.  This means that there really isn't any new material in this book, which is perfect if you don't own any of Peggy's other books, or have been trying to decide on which one of them to get.  

Peggy's Favourite Cakes and Cookies is broken down into four main chapters - Cookies, Cup Cakes, Miniature Cakes and Large Cakes.  There is also a chapter at the back called Basics where you will find all of the recipes and key decorating techniques.

Photo courtesy of Peggy Porschen


A few of the projects featured in the book are the: Rosebud Sugar Cookies and Wedding Cake Cookies, Ruffle Rose Cupcakes and Butterfly Fancies, Pansy Pots and Mini Tea Rose Wedding Cakes and the larger Romantic Rose Tower and Peggy's signature Neapolitan Monogrammed Cake.

Photo courtesy of Peggy Porschen


There are so many gorgeous cookies and cakes in this book it was hard to choose what to make.  For my first project, I could't decide between one of Peggy's mini cake designs (my favourite chapter in the book) or her gorgeous decorated sugar cookies.  In the end I choose to make the sugar cookies.  

Photo courtesy of Peggy Porschen


I've made decorated sugar cookies a few times before, but never using Peggy's recipe and never putting as much effort into them as I did with these.  I can definitely say that her sugar cookie recipe is the best I've ever used.  They kept their shape perfectly and tasted great as well.  I had also planned on making Peggy's Royal Icing, but in the end laziness got the best of me and I opted to use the Tate & Lyle Royal Icing mix that only required me to add a bit of water before mixing it up.

So what sugar cookie design did I end up baking?

Well, it's about time I let you all in on a little secret I've been keeping.  Despite all the gorgeous sugar cookie design's in Peggy's book, I choose a very special design - the "Baby Shower" cookies.  Why?  Because I'm pregnant! 


Despite a few complications during the first few months (hence the lack of posts & tweets earlier in the year) I'm pleased to announce that my husband and I are expecting our first baby  at the end of August, so I made these cookies to celebrate! 


These cookies were really fun to make - although they did take a lot of time as Royal Icing can be a little finicky to work with and they needed to be iced in layers, so I actually made them over a period of 2 or 3 days.



Peggy's Sugar Cookies
Makes about 25 medium cookies   

Ingredients:

200g Unsalted Soft Butter  
200g caster sugar
1 egg lightly beaten  
400g plain flour, plus more for dusting   

Optional flavours:  For vanilla cookies, add seeds from 1 vanilla pod.  For lemon cookie, add finely grated zest of lemon.  For orange cookie, add finely grated zest of orange.  For chocolate cookie, replace 50g of the plain flour with 50g of cocoa powder   

Instructions:

1. With paddle attachment of electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar and choosen flavouring until well mixed and just creamy in the texture.  *Do not overwork, or the cookies will spread during baking.   

2. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Gather into ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.   

3. Place the dough on floured surface and knead briefly. Using marzipan spacers, roll out to an even thickness.   

4. Use cookie cutter to cut out shapes and using a palette knife, lay on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill again for about 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC).   

5. Bake for 6 - 10 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown at the edges. Let cool on wire rack before decorating.


Peggy's Royal Icing 
(note: I have not tried this recipe)

Ingredients:

25g Merriwhite (dried egg white powder)
150ml Water
1kg Icing Sugar, sifted 
1 tbsp Lemon juice

Instructions:

1.  Mix the merriwhite with 150ml water and pass through a sieve to get rid of any lumps. 

2. Place the icing sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer, add about three-quarters of the merriwhite mixture and the lemon juice, and start mixing on low speed. 

3. Once the sugar and the merriwhite are well combined, check the consistency. If the sides of the bowl still look dry and crumbly, add some more merriwhite until the icing looks almost smooth but not wet. 

4. Keep mixing for about 4-5 minutes, until it has reached stiff-peak consistency. 

5. Spoon into a plastic container, cover with a clean damp j-cloth and the lid. Store at room temperature.

Royal Icing Consistencies: Simply thin down your basic royal icing with water, a little bit at a time, mixing with a palette knife, until you have the right consistency. Keep your icing covered with cling film or a damp cloth when not using it, to stop it from drying out. Stiff-peak consistency: for piping sugar flowers and leaves Soft-peak consistency: for piping lines, dots and borders Runny consistency: for filling in the centres of spaces.

*** While making these cookies I discovered the following things to be very helpful ***

Made With Pink's Top 5 tips for baking and decorating sugar cookies:

1. Use disposable chopsticks on either side of the dough to help ensure an even consistency when rolling out your dough.

2.  Instead of using flour to prevent sticking when rolling out your dough, use icing sugar.  This will prevent your cookies from absorbing too much flour and becoming tough, and will also sweeten up your cookies a tad more.

3. To save time, instead of refrigerating the cookie dough cut-outs for 30 mins in the fridge, pop the whole cookie tray in the freezer for 10 minutes to prevent them from spreading while baking.

4.  After you've made your Royal Icing, take the bowl and give it a few really hard taps/bangs on the counter top to bring any air bubbles to the surface.  This will prevent any tiny air bubbles appearing just after you've pipped your cookies. 

5.  When filling your cookie with a base colour, work quickly.  First pipe the outline, and then fill the inside of the cookie.  Give the cookie a few good shakes side to side in order to help spread the icing evenly and fill in any little gaps.  

Good Luck!!!


These cookies were absolutely delicious, but unfortunately they gave me horrible heart burn.  Other pregnant ladies, you know what I'm talking about!!!

If you're pregnant you may need to serve these with a side of Gaviscon or Tums!



Overall I've been very impressed with Peggy's book.  Despite there not being any new content in the book, the designs are beautiful and the directions and recipes are easy to follow.  When I wrote a previous review for Bake and Decorate by Fiona Cairns I mentioned that I had assumed there would be more decorating techniques given the title of the book.  I do admit that although the recipes in Bake and Decorate were delicious, I was a bit disappointed that there were so few advanced decorating techniques in the book, so I felt it was much better suited to a beginner or someone just looking for nice recipes.  Peggy's Favourite Cookies and Cakes was much more suited to me - I enjoy trying new decorating techniques, and there are countless designs and ideas in this book.  It also makes a beautiful coffee table book.

Oh, and one other piece of news......


Peggy's Favourite Cookies and Cakes is published by Quadrille Publishing, and is available now.

26 comments:

Susan's blog said...

What a lovely way to announce your pregnancy, CONGRATULATIONS to you both and all the very best (lovely cookies too) x

TCake said...

Fabulous news and loved the cookie news! Love Peggys book and I only use her cookie recipe as it is the best. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy Tx

Anonymous said...

Aaw. Great news and so pleased to hear you are feeling better (apart from the heartburn!). The cookies look very professional and are such a lovely idea for a baby shower.

Cupcake Kelly said...

You're cookies look SO good! Glad the cat is out of the bag. I hate keeping secrets!

Lala said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Nice looking cookies.

Sonia The Healthy Foodie said...

HUGE CONGRATS TO YOU! How very exciting. I can tell, looking at your cookies, that you will be one patient mommy!

Beautiful cakes, absolutely wonderfully decorated. I know how tedious a process this can be and wow, you aced it!

I wouldn't even dare taking a bite!

Ebony said...

Beautiful biscuits and congratulations on the baby news! All the best for the rest of the pregnancy x

Arline said...

Congratulations! How exciting! Cookies look amazing too!xx

Made With Pink said...

Thanks for the nice comments and well wishes everyone! Yes, these cookies do take a lot of time & patience, but I actually find it quite relaxing.

Kelly - thanks for keeping my secret :-) Baby looks just fine now. Dr's can't see any problems.

Unfortunately I'm not really enjoying the rest of my pregnancy at the moment, as I've just found out I have a condition called SPD / PGP. Basically I can barely walk, I can't sit or lay down in the same position for too long, I'm not allowed to go up stairs or vacuum (no complaints with that one!). I can't even put my own socks on! It's a very painful condition affecting the hips & groin area in about 25% of pregnant women, and it will likely continue (and possibly get worse) up until I have the baby. If anyone reading this was at the Prepped book launch and may have noticed I wasn't there, that was why :-(

Anyways, I'm trying to stay positive although it can be hard when I can't do anything. For now I'm keeping myself occupied by going through all of my cookbooks and just getting rest.

Vickii said...

Congratulations! How exciting!! I wish you all the best with the rest of your pregnancy :)

jeanives said...

Such good news Andrea. Gerry & Helga are pretty excited!

mybeautifuldisasters said...

Your decorations look awesome!! You must have soo much patience!

I heart cupcakes said...

Congratulations Andrea. My friend had a similiar condition and basically had to rest for the last three months of her pregnancy - she was lying in bed and read lots, and got very grumpy! Take care, read lots of cookbooks and congrats again!

Bernice said...

Congratulations on your wonderful news. Your little boy will have hours of endless fun helping Mumummy baking in the kitchen before you know it. Sorry to hear you've had a tough time. I'm waiting for baby number two to appear in October and the gaviscon made me smile. Everywhere I go I leave packets of fruit rennies. That heartburn is a buggar. It will all be worth it though - enjoy the opprtunity to be pampered by hubby and friends. Best wishes x

Kelly @ Kell's Kitchen said...

Congratulations! The cookies look adorable.
I absolutely love Peggy Porschen's cakedesigns!
Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

Liz said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Very happy for you and your husband.
The biscuits look divine, sooo cute. I appreciate what you mean about Fiona Cairns Bake and Decorate, it's lovely for easy to follow simple designs, but not very advanced. Thanks for the review, I'd never heard of Peggy, but the recipes you've shown are gorgeous.
xxx

A Trifle Rushed said...

Congratulations, how lovely. A lovely little person to love and bake for:) Jude x

Jillian Cupcake said...

Congratulations!!! I love your pins on Pinterest and came over to check out your blog. Such wonderful news!

Made With Pink said...

Thanks everyone! It's very exciting, but I keep thinking that the end of August is ages away. People keep having to remind me that he's coming very soon. We're so not ready. Don't have any of the furniture yet - it's all still waiting to be delivered, so hopefully he doesn't show up too early.

Jillian, thanks very much. Don't you just love Pinterest? It's so addicting, I often get nothing done because I'm too busy pinning all night!

The Galley Gourmet said...

Congratulations!! Thanks for stopping by my blog because now I have found yours--I love it:) My baby boy is almost a teenager, but he will always be my baby. WIshing you a healthy pregnancy. Maybe I should make my son a batch of little ducky and onesie cookies for his 13th??!! Or, maybe I will make them for myself-- better idea. Best and happy cooking, Nicole.

Cupcake Crazy Gem said...

Oh my goodness Andrea, I follow your blog religiously...how did I miss this important news! Congrats, that is so very exciting - I'm so happy for you! and I love the cookies you made, they are adorable! awwww a boy...I like baby boy's best of all!

Sneige said...

Oh congratulations!!! What great news!
Wish you all the best till the end and very happy moments after giving birth!

cakeje van eigen deeg said...

congratulations!! such great news indeed. lovely cookies as well ;)

Cuckoo said...

Wonderful wonderful news!! As a mum to 3 boys I am well placed to tell you life will become total chaos but it is the best sort of chaos ever! Although I did struggle a bit in the beginning, totally embraced it all now though! A case of having to!! No seriously, such a lovely gift to have a healthy baby boy.

SPD. Got the T shirt, BUT here's something odd that happened to me each time. Once the baby was quite large and the head verging on engaged the pain went away. Bizarre. My physio was speechless each time. Hopefully similar will happen to you and you'll have a birth with out the worry about your hips.

Don't fret about the furniture. All babies need to start with is some things to wear, something to sleep in, a car seat and boobs/bottles. The rest is very nice to have sorted before hand so you can just concentrate on baby cuddling when he arrives but you don't NEED everything straight away. But by golly isn't it fun to prepare a baby's room. I feel quite choked up thinking about it.

Enjoy!

xxx

smilernpb said...

Many congratulations and what an amazing way to share your news! xx

Becs@Lay the table said...

Congratulations!! How exciting for you. And the cookies you've decorated are gorgeous too - I still haven't mastered the art of decorating them yet! I'm seriously considering getting Peggy's book, it's just so different to anything I've seen before.

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