Thursday 14 December 2017

Nativity Christmas Brown Sugar Cookies

While many families are off on holidays this December school holidays, my schedule is pretty much hectic due to baking classes I have at ToTT and Culinary Arts Ministry with the church. I have limited time to create Christmas bakes for my extended family and Susanne's family and yet I have always wanted to create meaningful Christmas bakes that reminds us of why we celebrate this occasion -- our Lord Jesus’ birth. It's been a tough juggling act to handle many things at home, baking for sale (thankfully very few because I limit the number) and class prep. Thank God for enabling me to stay afloat so far! And so, I decided to create this Precious Moments inspired nativity scene made out of brown sugar cookies :).

Baby Jesus with Joseph, Mary and a sheep!

You may exclaim that this doesn't look simple at all and must be very time consuming to create. I love brown sugar cookies for the fact that they have a long shelf life and I can breakup the work into short, bitesized manageable portions each time and just chuck the half done portions in the freezer (for the dough) or whole tray of half decorated cookies into a jumbo ziplock bag.

Some planning and prep work has to be done of course for making the templates. I chose to decorate the characters with more freehand drawing this time to reduce the time spent on filling the details with the help of the template and a wider range of royal icing colours. E.g. my standard approach for filling a character's face with royal icing is to ice the nose and eyes first with the help of templates before filling in the flesh coloured icing around the features. This is rather time consuming so I chose to fill the face first and add on the features after the royal icing has dried. But this requires good artistic skills which I am not perfect at so positioning of the features is not so accurate.

You may refer to this recipe for brown sugar cookie and royal icing. If you prefer to make a gingerbread version, you may refer to this recipe instead. Just to share some photos of the process...

Cookies iced with royal icing. I was working concurrently on something for my elder kid's birthday :). Use a stiffer icing for the hay by adding some icing sugar to the royal icing.

Details like adding shading effects and facial features were done using either edible marker with vodka wash or royal icing and a needle (the features like the eyes are really fine!)

Using edible marker and vodka wash is a lazy way of adding details without having to make royal icing of different colours and is therefore a time saver. Make sure the royal icing is thoroughly dried (preferably overnight) before using edible marker on the surface. You may refer to this post on how this is done. Over here, I have also created white paint to add on lighter shades or highlights. The white paint was made by dissolving some white gel food colouring in vodka.

Partially assembled houses. I used the stiff royal icing for the hay to act as glue.

Finally all done!

This bake is going to be the decoration for my coconut Gula Melaka Ah Ma sponge cakes.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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