I've Moved!

Visit me at my new blog:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mosaic 2 - the remix, originally uploaded by Flying Time Designs.

I've opened an etsy store to sell some "Sugar & Meringue" sweet, nostalgic vintage kitchen stuff. I will admit I did this mostly so that I would have an excuse to search for and buy more vintage kitchen stuff, but who knows…maybe I'll make a little start -up capital for my cookie business! :) sugarandmeringue.etsy.com

I've only got a few things listed as of today, but keep checking back, I'll be adding more things every day. Everything shown in the picture either is or will be listed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Old Mixer & Something on a Stick

This is the mixer I used when I was learning to bake. My grandma bought it when my mom was a little girl and when my mom got married she gave it to her. Just recently Mom decided it was time to get a new mixer so I asked if I could have the old one. Even though it's roughly 50 years old it still works! However, I wanted it mostly for decorative purposes. Lots of yummy cookies have been mixed with this thing!

A friend at work (also a talented baker) keeps track of every obscure holiday. Friday was "Something on a Stick" day so we celebrated by bringing food… on a stick ! I remembered this idea for rice crispy balls …on a stick…dipped in chocolate. I saw these in a magazine once as an idea for a bake sale treat. Simple and cute! I love them!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

faux bois cookies

faux bois cookies, originally uploaded by Flying Time Designs.

I had a few extra scalloped square cookies in the freezer and I wanted to do something fun with them. I've kinda been into the "faux bois" trend lately (see my collage at flying time) so I decided it would be funny to make "faux bois" cookies. Here's some pictures that show how I made them.

Vintage Lily left a nice comment on a couple of my last posts so I visited her blog and absolutely loved it! She has a really great vintage style. Well… imagine my surprise when I visited her blog again and found a picture of my cookies in her flickr faves post! How fun! It was great to see them there!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A possible solution…

My creation, originally uploaded by Flying Time Designs.

Last time I posted, I was fretting about the amount I would have to charge for cookies decorated with flowers like the ones shown above. In order to make a decent (equal to the pizza delivery guy's) hourly wage, I would have to charge about $40/dz. and that didn't seem like a very competitive price. Most of the places I've found online charge less than $36/dz., usually around $30. Well, I may have found a way to balance my prices so that the finished price per dozen averages less than $30. For the anniversary cookie order I was working on, I decorated 1/2 the cookies with the marshmallow fondant and the gumpaste flowers, but for the other 1/2, I just coated the cookies with white icing and sprinkled them with sanding sugar. They look gorgeous with the other cookies and only took about 45 min. (start to finish) to make. That means I could probably charge around $12/dz for those and come out okay. So…a dozen fancy cookies-$40 + a dozen "filler" cookies -$12 = $52 for two dozen cookies or $26/dozen. No, this is not my firm/final price, but probably pretty close to what I'll be charging when I get this business underway.

Living on the Edge!

Taking risks and boldly trying new things, I used my new (used) Berkel 20 qt. mixer today without reading the owner's manual or receiving proper training! I'm happy to say, the kitchen and I are still in one piece and the cookie dough that I made tastes fine. Phew!

Meanwhile, I've been making more gumpaste flowers for some anniversary cookies a friend asked me to make. I couldn't wait to start working on these cookies. I love making pretty, wedding/shower /anniversary cookies, and the colors she requested really appeal to me.

I kept track of how long it took me to make the gumpaste flowers and it averaged around 1 1/2 min./ flower. Hmmm…a pizza place in town advertised a $10/hr. wage for a driver. I figure I deserve to make at least as much as that guy for my time. So with that in mind, each flower is worth about 30¢. In the previous post, I listed how long most of the other steps took. So, my time + the cost of the ingredients, packaging and a tiny bit for overhead = about $40/dozen ($3.35/cookie) to make what pizza delivery guy makes. I haven't seen many places that charge more than $30/dz. so I must be doing something wrong. I suppose with more experience working with gumpaste, I might be able to work a little faster, and I'm sure I can get my supplies a bit more cheaply when I start buying them in bulk, but still, I don't know how I'm going to speed this process up enough so that I can charge $30/dz and still make a living. I'm hoping to get in touch with other bakers to find out how they do it. I would like to start posting some interviews here soon.

Just in case my friend reads this post, I have to say, I wanted to make these cookies. They will be fun to work on, look good in my portfolio, and help with my research. She is a very talented crafter so I told her we would do some kind of a trade or something.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I'm back!

spring cookies , originally uploaded by Flying Time Designs

After months of ignoring this blog I'm back and this time with a purpose. As explained in the newly edited "about me" section I've decided to use this blog to help keep myself on track, organized and motivated as I research and develop a plan to start my own gourmet/specialty cookie shop. It would be great if I could be up and running by Christmas but there's so much to do! We'll see…

One of the things on my "to do" list was to play with gumpaste and fondant. I had never worked with gumpaste before and had very little experience with fondant. (I've always decorated my cookies with royal icing. ) I've seen lots of really beautiful and fun things done with fondant and gumpaste so I wanted to know how to work with them. The picture above shows the results. Overall I'm pretty happy with the way these cookies turned out. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the cookies tasted with the fondant. The last time I worked with fondant, I think I used some store bought stuff…not very good, kinda tasteless. This time I made marshmallow fondant and I used corn syrup to stick it to the cookies. I can't say I liked the taste or texture of the fondant as much as the taste/texture of icing, but it tasted pretty good, especially considering all the fun things you can do/ the look that can be achieved with fondant. I tried to keep track of how long each step of this process took today:

It took me:
15 min. to mix the dough (I think. I didn't time this part)
45 min. to roll, cut and bake 3 1/2 dozen cookies and to clean up the mess afterward.
15 min. to make marshmallow fondant? (I didn't time this either)
1 hour to cover the 3 1/2 dz. cookies with the fondant
forever to make a bunch of gumpaste flowers (I spent a Sunday a couple of weeks ago working on these. It was the first time I'd worked with gumpaste and I spent a lot of time reading the directions in the Wilton book, but still…
45 min. to put flowers on 1 1/2 dozen of the cookies

This puts me at about 69minutes/ dozen without including the time spent making gumpaste flowers. So maybe…about 2 hrs/dz. with the flowers? Probably gonna have to work a lot faster than that to make a decent hourly wage even if I charge $30/dz. which is the price I have in mind. If there's any pros out there reading this, please tell me how long it takes you to make a dozen cookies and how you automate the process!

Speaking of automating the process, my dad found me a sweet deal on a used 2o quart mixer. Just got it this weekend so I haven't had a chance to play with it. Without a professional kitchen I really don't have room for it, but I couldn't pass it up so for now it sits in our garage. I guess I can add "scaling up my recipe" to my "to do" list and a kitchen scale to my "stuff to buy list"!