Sunday, July 31, 2016

Into the Madness... 2016 Indiana State Fair Turn-In Day

Galaxy Cookies

Galaxy cookies. They were probably my undoing this year. They destroyed my kitchen and my time schedule but I was fixated on making them!

Friday morning I left the hospital at 7 am. Four patients, all discharged, lay curled up sleeping all snug in their beds waiting for their rides to come pick them up. I, on the other hand, was so sleepy I could barely drive home. Crawled into bed, then woke at 10:45 am to someone calling to tell me I'd won a cruise. Ugh! Then the civil defense/tornado sirens went off at 11 am for their weekly test. Time to get up...

First on the agenda were Pesto Rolls. Got them going and stuck them outside to proof. Next were peanut butter cookies. Got the cookie dough out and baked them without a problem.

XL Bakery Style Peanut Butter Cookies
(not the ones I turned in; these weren't the same size)

Next were the decorated cookies - the Galaxy cookies. Got the dough out, rolled it and cut out circles to bake. Then it was time to shape the Pesto Rolls. Went outside to retrieve the dough and discovered it was pouring down rain. Yuck! Shaped the rolls, put them back in my SUV, then finished baking the cut out cookies.

I still needed a filled cookie recipe since the filled shortbread cookie idea just wasn't working out. I was out of time to experiment so I decided to make Linzer Cookies. I had pecans and blackberry preserves in the cupboard so Blackberry Pecan Linzer cookies it was. I made the cookie dough and put in in the refrigerator to chill.

Rolls were ready to bake by now and it had stopped raining. Totally clear skies and sunny. Welcome to Indiana weather. Got all the rolls baked and I was really pleased that the shaping was much better this time around; not nearly as flat as the County Fair ones. I really watched how much liquid I put in the bread dough today because it was so humid.

Pesto Rolls

By now it was 3 pm. I was pretty pleased with what I had gotten accomplished so far but it was time to leave to go see G for the parent show for the last day of her summer dance intensive in Carmel. Break time. Show lasted til almost 6 pm so I didn't get back home until 7 pm.

Reassessing what I had left to do, I still had to make the Toasted Coconut Quinoa Breakfast cookies, the Lace Florentine Cookies, the Pecan Linzer Cookies and decorate the Galaxy Cookies. I was VERY worried the humidity was going to affect the lace cookies and, to an extent, the Linzer cookies, so I'd been putting them off...

Made the Toasted Coconut Breakfast cookies. No problem. Decided Linzer cookies were next. The dough was chilled but by the time I rolled it out to an 1/8" thickness, it was so soft and fragile the cookies kept tearing when I tried to move them to the baking sheet. Finally, after repeated attempts at rechilling the dough, I figured out I could cut the dough with the cookie cutter but leave it in place, pop the whole tray in the freezer for a couple minutes, then take it out and pop the cut-outs out without them breaking. This sucked up some time. After they were done, I set them aside to cool and decided I'd wait til morning to fill them with blackberry preserves because I was afraid the preserves would soften them too much over night.

Next up were the Lace Florentines. So... my oven sits at a very slight tilt - meaning it slants forward ever so slightly. When I bake cakes I fold up a piece of aluminum foil under the front edge of the cake pan so the cake bakes flat. Usually for cookies this isn't a problem because the batter is thicker. However, the lace cookies are super thin...

...and all the cookies on the back half of my cookie sheet came out looking like this, even with a foil "shim" under the cookie sheet...

cookies, "running" from the back to the front of my oven as it bakes

I could only bake 6 of these cookies at a time but only the 3 cookies in the front were usable for competition purposes. After about 3 trays of cookies I decided to only make 3 cookies at a time with the batter only in the front of the cookie sheet. Needless to say, this took freakin' FOREVER!
Finally got 12 cookies that were similar in size and shape that I could sandwich together for the requisite 6 cookies needed for entry.

By now it was 11 pm and I was EXHAUSTED! Good news was, the only things I had left to do before turn-in on Saturday was to decorate the Galaxy Cookies and sandwich the Linzer Cookies together. Then there were the other minor details like typing up the recipes for the 3 cookies that I didn't show in the County Fair (all my previously shown recipes are saved in a file in my computer so all I have to do is print them), plating and tagging all the baked goods, plus tagging all my crochet items and photography entry. I decided it would be best to go to bed. I COULD decorate cookies, but I was afraid I'd make a stupid mistake due to exhaustion.


Saturday the entries were due in between 8 am and 5 pm. Plenty of time. G spent the night at a friend's on the Northside so the plan was to get all my Fair items for today ready to turn in, start cakes if I have time, then pick up G when she was ready but drop off Fair items on the way to the Northside.

Alarm went off at 7 am. I got up at a leisurely pace, had some coffee and cereal, then started making the icing for my cookies. Four different colors of icing took me OVER 2 HOURS to make! I just had a hard time getting the icing the exact shade I wanted. All the colors were pretty dark and it took forever to get it dark; plus, I didn't want to overshoot the color.

Colors are made and I pour them in the icing bags. It's only then that I realize I have 5 different colors (white was one of them) that I need to use on each cookie and I only own 4 couplers. A coupler is the thing that screws the icing tip onto the bag. I had plenty of pieces to go inside the bag but only 4 pieces to keep the icing tip in place. The only solution I could come up with was to unscrew one of them after I used it and attach it to the next bag of icing and keep alternating.

So... I start icing... and almost immediately I realize that I didn't thin the icing down enough. It's coming out thick and slooooow and I'm really having to muscle it out of a small tip. I probably should have dumped them all back out of the bags and thinned them but colored icing is really messy and I just didn't want to deal with it... so I kept on with the thick icing.

One cookie. Two cookies. The design looked so easy to do on YouTube. NOT! Third cookie I picked up the hot pink icing and forgot that that was the bag I had taken the coupler off of to use on another bag. Next thing I know the icing tip flies off and I'm plopping hot pink icing everywhere. @#$*!

I'm watching the time. 9:00, 10:00. Originally I was suppose to pick G up at noon. It takes me a minimum of 45 minutes to get to the State Fairgrounds and at least another 30 minutes to get to her friend's house from there. Thankfully, I get a message that G doesn't need picked up until 1:30 pm. 11:00... I'm STILL decorating cookies. I finally get 9 done.

Picked 6 to plate.
Got my Linzer Cookies sandwiched.

                                                             Everything plated and tagged...

... and left this disaster behind

Finally out the door at noon for the fairgrounds. NOT the morning I had planned. Got to the fairgrounds find that the icing had melted and smeared on one of my cookies. Cry. Not really, but UGH!

So that was turn-in day yesterday. Picked up G after that. Another grocery store run on the way home, then three cakes to make. Cake baking started at 5 pm on Saturday. Stay tuned for the cake post.

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