Monday, November 23, 2020

Tough Cookies!

Oh, what a crazy few weeks I've had!

I've been taking classes for fancy cookie decorating (like I need another creative outlet in my life...sheesh). I've always loved making cookies, but cutouts were a pain- I'd always mess up the cookies by mangling them with the spatula- they were so hard to pick up, no less decorate! So I took this class, hoping to learn a few things and maybe spend a little creative time with my daughter when she came home from college for the holidays.

After finishing the online course, I was talking with my husband about some of my cookie ideas when running our errands one morning (he is encouraging me because this particular skill ties into his interests as a chef and baker), and one of the stops was a Jewish bakery we love. 

We are friendly with the baker, and when I showed him some of the cookie class pictures from other students, he was so impressed, he said if I could show him my work and he liked it, I could have a job as a decorator for his bakery. He needed a decorator, but would rather offer the job to someone he knew and could get along with. He didn't want fancy-schmancy stuff, just simple and pretty- right up my alley.

Then my husband showed him a couple of cakes I'd made through the years for the kids' birthdays, and he added simple cake decorating to the job as well. He wanted to see some cookie work as soon as possible. I didn't even know my husband had those cake pictures on his phone!

It didn't take long for my husband to make a small investment to fill in the gaps for the cookie baking equipment for the class- especially these things called silpats- small sheets of silicone that would help me not mangle my cutout cookie dough without using any additional flour!

Just a few short days later, I had everything I'd needed for making and decorating cookies. The class recipe for the cookies was awesome! It rolled out beautifully on the silpats, and came right off with no mangling; the cookies baked so nice with straight edges, and the frosting (for the most part) did what it was supposed to do. It took a lot longer for me to frost the entire batch (because I was making each one different and used way too many colors), but in the end, not bad for a first try. Here are some my first batch!

My personal fave was the 'Snow' in the bottom right corner. My first try of that was the the one in the top row. Most weren't finished, but I took a picture anyway because I was seeing the baker the next day. I was so excited!

I went into the bakery and the staff surrounded me to see what I did. Each had their favorites, and the baker liked the snowflake the best. He knew I would improve with practice, so he said he would let me know in a few days because he had to confirm things with his financial advisor (they'd just renovated, and the mayor was threatening another Covid shutdown by the weeks end.)

I was elated, and after the baker ate his favorite cookie (and the staff had theirs), I left with a lighter box and a lot of hope- and ideas for icing more cookies.

Then the bottom dropped out. The mayor made good his threat to shut down food businesses and restrict limits on the ones that were open. Thanksgiving plans were to be cancelled and travel limited. The bakers' Thanksgiving orders were five percent of what they were last year, since most people decided to stay home, and the prospect of starting a new venue in decorated cookies didn't bode well for business. 

So for now, the job is on hold until further notice. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop baking and decorating. In fact, this Christmas I can practice cut cookies with my daughter and her friends! They can take some home, and we can eat the evidence if some frosted ones aren't up to snuff. I'll make sure some of them get 'accidentally' smeared. Heh.

I still don't know why God gave me yet another creative outlet, since the job offer fizzled. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to turn this into a business, help my husband, or become an expert before the job is offered again. All I know is practice is going to be fun. And edible.

We picked up our daughter from the airport over the weekend, and went straight into Lancaster to pick up some much needed cookie supplies for our regular Christmas cookie baking. I found some mini candies, sugars, and jimmies that would look great on iced cookies, including some nonpareils that will put a little twinkle in the eyes of my cookie-characters.

I also created a binder filled with small sketch papers, markers, pens and a spiral book that will be my very own Creative Cookie Book- one I can record any time I create a new cookie design, and reference when I can't remember all of the details. So until that job (or some other cookie-related blessing) come along, I'll be sketching, writing, baking, and frosting!