Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Wreath Centerpiece: Four Sundays and Candles

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, which is the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.

Here is one of my favorite gingerbread advent wreaths. It's all white and has four candles. We light a new candle each Sunday of Advent. You can read more about the candles below.

Advent wreath - Christmas centerpiece

The keeping of an advent wreath is a common practice in homes or churches. The readings for the first Sunday in Advent relate to the old testament patriarchs who were Christ's ancestors, so some call the first advent candle that of hope.

The readings for the second Sunday concern Christ's birth in a manger and other prophecies, so the candle may be called of Bethlehem, the way or of the prophets.

The third Sunday, the readings relate to St. John the Baptist, and the rose candle may be called of joy or of the shepherds.

The readings for the fourth Sunday relate to the annunciation of Christ's birth, so the candle may be known as the Angel's candle.

Advent wreath - Christmas centerpiece
This red and white piece is the very first I made.

Advent wreath - Christmas centerpiece
I also love natural colors. This is a combination of regular gingerbread and chocolate gingerbread.

Advent wreath - Christmas centerpiece
This piece is a little different with the asymmetric design.

Advent wreath - Christmas centerpiece
And an other traditional red and white piece from the last season.

Are you ready to celebrate?

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

White bell cookies with poinsettias

White bell cookies with poinsettias

These bell cookies were my first "play-cookies" of the season. What a play-cookie is? Cookies I make for the pure joy of creating.

These are designs that cross my mind, then I play with them in my mind for days, weeks, or even months before I have the time to make them. Most of the time they are too complicated to make them to sell and I don't even want to make them again. It would ruin the fun.

I wanted to make some bell cookies with poinsettias and decided to add a little lace to make them more interesting. A great start for a wonderful season!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Fall cookies 2014

Before we say goodbye to fall, I wanted to show you the fall cookies I made this year.

Fall Pumpkin cookies
 This set is a basic colorful pumpkin cookies. Simple and attractive.

Fall Pumpkin cookies

I added colorful tiny leaves to the same pumpkin for a different look.

Fall Pumpkin cookies
These pumpkins got a lace decoration.

Fall Pumpkin cookies
 And the last pumpkin set is more festive with its filigree design.

Fall leaf cookies
 The first set of leaves has colorful leaves made with wet on wet technique and brown acorns complement this set.

Fall leaf cookies
 Simple, uni-color cookies decorated with golden filigree.

Fall leaf cookies
This sparkly set is decorated with twinkle dust.

I love fall, all the colors and will miss it. But I am already getting ready for the Holiday season!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday Deal



I would like to spend time with friends and family during Thanksgiving, so my 
Black Friday Deal starts now!

All my baking molds are $19.99, the Galuska noodle maker is $14.99.




Shape





Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hanukkah cookies

Hanukkah cookies

A friend of mine suggested me last year to make some Hanukkah cookies and I said I will and also ordered a set of cookie cutters. But I did not make the cookies and I felt so bad about it!

These cookies were on my "to do" list for more than a year! And it's not because I can not find time to bake and decorate a dozen cookies to make a friend happy. It's because to create a set I need information. I not only need to know which colors to use, but also why.

This Hanukkah cookie cutter had 6 different shapes and I knew only 3 of them. For the other three I had no idea what they were:


Instead of baking the cookies, I was staring at this cutter, trying to figure out, what could it be. Then, of course, I searched the internet for Hanukkah information and found out, that this is the Chai symbol. At this point a cookie decorator could stop, draw the symbol and proceed. Not me! I wanted to know more...

Chai: This symbol, commonly seen on necklaces and other jewelry and ornaments, is simply the Hebrew word Chai (living), with the two Hebrew letters Cheit and Yod attached to each other. Some say it refers to the Living G-d; others say it simply reflects Judaism's focus on the importance of life. Whatever the reason, the concept of chai is important in Jewish culture. The typical Jewish toast is l'chayim (to life). Gifts to charity are routinely given in multiples of 18 (the numeric value of the word Chai). (source: http://www.jewfaq.org/)

So now, I know this symbol, I like it and I am ready to do a Chai cookie.

And by now, I now a little about all of them.

I even wanted to know the sound of the Shofar (A ram's horn, blown like a trumpet as a call to repentance.) It's amazing!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jR20-0sy1Y

Making cookies is a great way to learn about other cultures. And I have so much more to learn!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Russian themed cookies 3 - Matryoshka doll

The last set of the Russian collection is the matryoshka doll cookie set.

 Matryoshka doll cookie

matryoshka doll, also known as Russian nesting doll or babushka doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first Russian nested doll set was carved in 1890. Traditionally the outer layer is a woman and the figures inside may be of either gender; the smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby turned from a single piece of wood. Much of the artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be very elaborate. The dolls often follow a theme; the themes vary, from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders.

Growing up, we had two sets of these dolls. My dad brought them from Moscow and we loved playing with them. And two sets never seemed to be enough, so for this tea party I created three sets:

 Matryoshka doll cookie

 Matryoshka doll cookie

 Matryoshka doll cookie

 Matryoshka doll cookie

 Matryoshka doll cookie


 Matryoshka doll cookie

 Matryoshka doll cookie

 Matryoshka doll cookie


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Russian themed cookies 2 - Gzhel cookies

The second set of mu Russian collection is inspired by Gzhel porcelain.


Gzhel is a Russian style of ceramics which takes its name from the village of Gzhel and surrounding area, where it has been produced since 1802. About thirty villages located southeast of Moscow produce pottery and ship it throughout Russia. The name Gzhel became associated with pottery in the 14th century. Gzhel pottery was originally created by potters in their homes, however fairly early on these potters started to organize into workshops to increase production. The workshops eventually became a factory with pieces being formed in moulds and potters being responsible for separate pieces, a specific style, or decoration. The earliest pieces were created of earthenware. The pottery was painted solid white with distinctive blue designs. 

As the cookies were made for a tea party, and the inspiration was a porcelain painting, the tea pot and tea cup cookie shape was a natural choice for this set.



The cookies first got a white base color, then for the first time in my life, I painted the pattern on the cookies using a paint brush (and food coloring of course).




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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Russian themed cookies 1 - khokhloma

I got a request to create some cookies for a Russian tea party. I had the freedom to chose my designs and I created three different sets. Today I tell you about the first one.




These cookies were inspired by khokhloma painting.

Khokhloma painting is the name of a Russian wood painting handicraft style and national ornament, known for its vivid flower patterns, red and gold colors over a black background, and the effect it has when applied to wooden tableware or furniture, making it look heavier and metal-like.

When I was a child, my mom had a khokhloma wooden box and it was full of little treasures.


Source of the picture: http://www.therussianstore.com/
So my first set of Russian themed cookies is inspired by khokhloma. I first made a shiny black glaze base color, then added the red and yellow flower patterns with green leaves.



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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Basic gingerbread recipe

Gingerbread cookies
In Hungary, gingerbread hearts have been given as gift for centuries. If not eaten, they will dry out over time and can keep for many years. All gingerbread decorating artists have their own recipe. I use different recipes according to the purpose of the cookies. This recipe is a great basic recipe. It's easy to work with, have a wonderful, mild flavor and the cookies will stay delicious for months. 




 ingredients:
750g (6 cup) flour
250g (2 1/2 cup) cup confectioner’s sugar
5 eggs
1/4 cup (half stick) butter
4 tbsp honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½  tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
  • Mix flour and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Mix rest of the ingredients in another bowl.
  • Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and work it well together. Form a ball and let it rest for half an hour, wrapped in a plastic wrap.
  • With this recipe you don’t have to wait overnight and the cookies will harden faster. This way this recipe is great for your bigger projects, like centerpieces.


Rolling out gingerbread dough
Preheat oven to 375F.
Generously flour the surface you will work on. This way you will not need parchment paper.
Roll the dough about 1/8 inch thin. A fondant rolling pin with rolling pin guide rings is a really helpful tool.

Cutting out shapes
 Cut out the desired shapes.

Cookies on baking sheet
 Put the cookies on a non-stick cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. 
(I usually rotate 4 cookie sheets while baking).
Bake cookies for about 7 minutes or until ready. They are still a little soft when you remove them.

Cooling cookies
 Cut the holes for candle holders while still soft.
Cool cookies on a cooling rack.  

Storing cookies
Store your cookies in a cool dry place. I like to use tin boxes to store my cookies until I decorate them.

After decorating the cookies I wrap them in cello bags.

UPDATE: Online classes about the basics are available now:



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Yummy gingerbread recipe

After baking thousands of gingerbread cookies and always having some in my home I can usually resist eating them. There is only one exception: if I bake this recipe. I just love the taste and the texture of this one. So if you want a really delicious gingerbread recipe, give this a try!

Whith this recipe you need to plan ahead, it needs to age overnight. It also stays soft, so it's not a good choice for bigger 3D projects.

Gingerbread cookies

ingredients:
500 g (4 cup) flour
100 g (1 cup) confectioner’s sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup (half stick) butter
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½  tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves

Melt the honey with the butter, then add all the remaining ingredients. Mix them well together then cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to bake it.
With this more traditional recipe you need to plan ahead. The cookies will have a beautiful smooth surface and a gorgeous golden color. This is an ideal recipe if you just want to decorate with white icing.
  
Preheat oven to 350F.
Generously flour the surface you will work on. This way you will not need parchment paper.
Roll the dough about 1/8 inch thin. A fondant rolling pin with rolling pin guide rings is a really helpful tool.
Cut out the desired shapes.
Put the cookies on a non-stick cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. (I usually rotate 4 cookie sheets while baking).
Bake cookies for about 8 minutes or until ready. They are still a little soft when you remove them.
Cut the holes for candle holders while still soft.
Cool cookies on a cooling rack. 
Store your cookies in a cool dry place. I like to use tin boxes to store my cookies until I decorate them.
After decorating the cookies I wrap them in cello bags.

UPDATE: Online class about making this recipe is available now:



This is a little gift box made from this recipe for my book. I had it for 6 months, then I was curious how it tastes after 6 months. Well, I ended up eating the whole thing....

Gingerbread gift box

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Big bell cookies with snowy landscape

I know, we still have two weeks until Thanksgiving, but I already made my first Christmas cookies. I can't help it...

These are 6 inch chocolate gingerbread bells decorated with white royal icing.

Chocolate gingerbread bell with snowy landscape

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunflower birthday cookies

Sunflower birthday cookie set


Let me tell you about this sunflower birthday set.

My friend asked me to make some birthday cookies for her friends birthday party. Her idea was to make number 40 with sunflower pattern. 

To be honest I couldn't have been happier! Sunflower is one of my favorite flowers and somehow I never made a sunflower cookie before. So, of course I started with the sunflower. First made a light brown center, than added a row of cheerful, warm yellow petals. I let them dry a little before adding the next row of petals and little dark brown dots to the middle of the flower.

Sunflower cookies

Then came the number 40. I did not want them to be bigger, than the flowers. With their soft, dark ivory color they stand out anyway. I added little sunflowers to it to nicely blend in the set.

Number 40 cookies

Finally, I love to make all my cookie gift sets personal. This is the best part of giving handmade, isn't it? So I made a matching plaque cookie with small sunflowers and the message.

Sunflover birthday cookie


Hope you like this set as much as I do!


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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Holiday special: Gingerbread book bundle

Are you preparing for the holiday? I am. And I decided to make your job easier:
now you can order Gingerbread Academy and Gingerbread Christmas Wonderland at a special price.



Gingerbread Academy will guide you through how to make and decorate gorgeous gingerbread cookies. Gingerbread Christmas Wonderland has step-by-step instructions to create 33 different Christmas projects, that can be great gifts or decorations. This special offer is available at my web shop.

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