So, I'm baking up this blog. The baking part is easy, blog design is a piece of cake (pun intended) and the photography is super fun. Timing, on the other hand is something I need to work on. Obviously. Here are my Christmas cutouts, ahem, it's January 7th. *shrug* So, to embrace my learning moment, I'm starting a post series of Baking a Blog lessons learned. And I present to you (drumroll please) Lesson No. 1: Editorial Calendars and Me.
Working ahead with an editorial calendar
I'm a graphic designer by trade and make my living managing a creative services team for an international brand. I'm no stranger to deadlines. But I am new to deadlines being hooked to the calendar. Seasons, holidays and occasions etc. Now that I work for a retail brand I'm starting to get the hang of it. Working on a holiday campaign in March, for example, or wrapping up spring promotions when the temperatures dip below zero. It's hard to get used to, and well, it's just plain weird. But guess what, lo and behold, a food blog is no different. And I learned that the hard way. This December was my second chaotic retail holiday at work and my first with whisk + wander. You can imagine what that was like. Lots of ideas and no time for any of it. Dreams of handmade tags and custom wrapping paper dissolved into trendy finds from Target (albeit very cute ones). And my lofty goals of holiday cookies, cupcakes and candies online by early December fizzled just as fast.
Using Google Docs to Plan Blog Content
So, I guess you can say this is my New Year's Resolution. I built an editorial calendar. And it's really nifty. It's a spreadsheet in Google Docs with a row for each week of the calendar year. Columns to indicate what I should be baking that week and when it will publish. Checkboxes for when things are baked, photographed, written and standing by. I won't be baking holiday cookies in March, but I will be working on them in September. This blogger is on a schedule and it's going to be awesome!
Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies
I may have missed posting these cookies by Christmas, but they make a yummy treat for any occasion. It's my Grandmother's sugar cookie recipe topped with a glacé icing (flood) and royal icing accents. The flavors are simple and so is the decorating. A little pixie dust and silver nonpareils add sparkle and shine. If nothing else, they're great inspiration for next year!
Grandma's Honey Cutout Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen 2" cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup unflavored shortening
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large free-range egg
2/3 cup local raw honey
1 tsp pure lemon extract
Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Using the the paddle attachment, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg, honey & extract. Mix well.
Add half of the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated on low speed. Repeat with the remaining half. Mix until dough starts to clump. Divide dough and form into 2 equal discs. wrap separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour. Can be chilled overnight.
If dough has been chilling for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes, or until slightly softened. Remove the plastic wrap and place dough between two 1/2 sheets of floured parchment paper. Roll out to less than 1/8-inch thick. Chill rolled dough for at least 15 minutes (longer will make cutting and transferring easier).
Preheat oven to 375º.
Cut dough to desired shapes and place on baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Re-roll scraps only once to avoid tough cookies. Chill again until ready to bake.
Bake for 5-8 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown (about 6 minutes for convection ovens). Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes in the pan then transfer to wire racks to cool at room temperature.
Source: ©1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book
Grandma would frost these with glacé icing on the BOTTOM side of the cookie.
Don’t forget to lightly flour your parchment paper. This will make transferring the cookies a breeze!
2 pounds confectioners' sugar, no need to sift
1/4-3/4 cup water, room temp
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add confectioners’ sugar. With mixer on low speed slowly add water to sugar a little at a time until icing is spreadable but not too thin.
Mix until all sugar is dissolved and icing looks smooth. About 4 minutes. Scraping sides as necessary.
A little extract goes a long way. The flavor will get stronger as the icing dries.