(The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.)

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge looked difficult.  I’m not an artistic type. I make tons of sugar cookies at Christmas, but that’s about it, so I don’t have many non-Christmas cookie cutters – and I didn’t think “Christmas in September” would fly.

But September happened to be the month I did a massive spring cleaning of my pantry.  I have a huge panty – probably bigger then some NYC kitchens – and it accumulates stuff.  I took everything out, cleaned it all, and gave away a bunch of stuff I never use. 

And I found my tea cake mold. I bought it a few years ago, with the intention of using it for very detailed chocolates.  It failed miserably – because it was metal, you couldn’t get the chocolates back out of the mold.  It’s sat in my pantry ever since.

But when I came across it, I thought, “I bet I could bake tiny sugar cookies in that!  And then put a tiny bit of icing on top, and it would run down the sides, and I’d have these cute little cookies that would look like Bundt cakes with glaze on top! And that would be perfect for this month’s challenge!”.

So I made the sugar cookie dough, and I pressed  it into the molds, and I baked them.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

I should have used a little less dough in each one – they puffed up over the top and had to be trimmed.  But they came out rather good, and I particularly liked the heart-shaped ones.  They were an interesting texture, too, with lots of crunchy edges, but soft in the middle.

Then I made the royal icing.  I used the recipe from Joy of Baking, with egg whites.  I have really good professional gel food coloring, so I split it into thirds and did one bowl each of orange, brown, and black.  The black didn’t turn out – the color had separated, and I got a dreadful shade of green.  But the orange and brown came out bright and September-y.

But when I tried to put it on the cookies, it refused to drizzle nicely down the sides.  Plus, with a dab of icing on top, I lost the details that made the cookies look good in the first place.  So I ended up with some rather uninteresting, but brightly-colored, lumps of sugar cookie.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

I tried to thin out the icing, but it still wouldn’t drip down the sides like a glaze. If I ever try this again, I’d probably actually use a glaze recipe and skip the royal icing.

Still, the cookies were good, and now I have a use for my pan.  Hopefully, I’ll have better luck with next month’s challenge!