Consider The Sauce loves rabbit holes and those who gleefully scamper down them – people who are devoted with joy and passion to their “thing”.
Julia Day – Miss Biscuit – certainly qualifies.
Since CTS first wrote about her biscuit-decorating pursuits more than three years ago, her dedication has paid dividends.
She’s found the desire for knowledge about her “thing” is so wide and deep that she’s been able to make it her main gig, moving her operations from her Yarraville home to a two-storey headquarters at Seddon.
As well, she has become an employer, has embarked on a teaching tour of the Middle East, is bringing specialists from overseas to teach here and has taught many thousands of students and fans herself.
Decorating cookies is never going to be something I’ll pursue, but I’m nevertheless grateful for the opportunity to sit in on one of Julia’s beginner classes.
She’s a fine teacher. In this regard, she draws on her background as a speech pathologist. Our class is a mix of information and hands-on practice in the form of decorating nine cookies each ourselves.
The information comes in the form of making the base cookies; we are provided three different recipes – Miss Biscuit’s Vanilla Sugar Biscuits, Gingerbread (adapted from website Bake at 350) and Decadent Chocolate Roll Out Cookies.
The important thing here is that the recipes result in cookies that don’t lose their shape once they’re cut and baked.
Then there is the royal icing itself.
We are led through the basic recipe then the various consistencies and colours and their uses, as well as the use of piping bags and squeeze bottles.
Finally, there’s the piping-bag tips, with some brands being much more favoured than others. Some (the narrow ones) used for outlining and wider ones for flooding (the all-over icing technique that creates a sort of blank canvas for more ornate art and detail).
After demonstrations by Julia, I’m surprised at how easy it is to work the royal icing.
Flooding is something quite different; I have been too sparing in my applications. As we finish the early stages of each cookie, they are set aside so the icing can dry.
After lunch, we add details to our cookies. It’s at this point my outlining technique gets well and truly found out – the lattice-work on my ice-cream cone and cupcake is squiggly where it should be straight!
Still, in the end, I’m delighted and surprised that all my cookie artwork actually looks recognisably as it is meant to. I’ve had a ball.
For more information, go to www.missbiscuit.com.au.
Kenny Weir is the founder of Consider the Sauce, the definitive guide to eating in Melbourne’s western suburbs – www.considerthesauce.net