Friday, August 10, 2012

Spritz Cookies without a Press

While watching America's Test Kitchen on PBS a while ago, I learned that spritz cookies can be made without a press; in many bakeries they are piped. Recently I also read Baking with the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro. It's very good; a baking apprenticeship in book form. Buddy writes that piping cookies, lots of cookies, is the best way to develop your piping skills. He also specifically recommends a canvas piping bag for piping cookies as it is strong enough to not split, so I bought one. Sadly, I forgot to get almond paste, which is necessary for Buddy's cookie recipe.

A note about piping. It isn't nearly as hard as you think, and it's very impressive and a lot of fun. I highly recommend Wilton's Decorating Basics class, which is offered at Joann's and Michaels's. However, if you don't have the money for the class (which cost me about $100 total, with supplies), I recommend using the tutorials on YouTube. This is how Wilton actually trains its teachers.

My hands were hurting last night, so I decided to try the Butter Cookie recipe from ATK's Family Baking Book (I love this book).

I started by whisking together an egg yolk, 1 tablespoon cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

In the bowl of my mixer I measured 2 sticks or 8 ounces of very soft unsalted butter, 2/3 cup or about 4 3/4 ounces sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon table salt, but my one year old recently dumped all of my table salt.

I creamed the ingredients by setting my mixer to 6 and leaving it for a couple minutes. Butter cookies depend on thorough creaming or aeration for their lightness.

I mixed in the liquid ingredients on low, being careful to scrape down the sides.

Next I mixed in 10 ounces or 2 cups of all-purpose flour, again on low. Not a very attractive dough, is it?

The recipe called for a 1/2 inch open star tip, I'm guessing an 8B or 6B? I used a 1M tip, which has fewer points and is also used for drop flowers. You can use any tip that is large enough.

I just played around with stars, lines, circles, rosettes, and drop flowers. If I was making these in advance, I would freeze them at this point.

This is how they turned out after baking.

This illustrates the drawbacks of an uncoated canvas bag. It probably wouldn't be as bad with a less rich macaroon dough or if it wasn't midsummer.

Onto the cookies. It's a pretty good recipe. When I first tasted them, I though "OK but boring; would be better with almonds." However, I then ate a very, very, embarrassingly large number of them. My husband liked the cookies too. I think I'll keep playing with the recipe though.


  1. Re cookie presses: I bought one a long time ago thinking that it would be less work on my hands and easier to do designs with. No, not at all. If anything, it was harder to use! Maybe it would be easier for someone who was less used to using a piping bag, but that wasn't my experience. Also, a total pain to clean. :-)

    1. How hard piping is on your hands depends entirely on the texture of the dough or frosting. This was a little hard at first, but easier Asti warmed up. Something with nuts and egg white would be more difficult.
      My hands would always prefer a piping bag to a hard handle.