I’ve been making lots of wintery stews lately, and have even taken pictures, but I’ve been engulfed by Downton Abbey and have only just finished Season 1, so I have to keep my priorities straight, but look for those recipes in the near future. I’m thinking about having a Downton Abbey party. This idea hasn’t really materialized fully in my head yet, except that it would be really nice to have a staff of servants (which my children are proving out not to be), even if some of them can be quite damaging (though from what I’ve seen so far, mostly toward each other). I’m sure the party will need to involved these paper dolls, Edwardian desserts, and a whole new wardrobe for me. My husband’s English, and so are my neighbors, so maybe I can just have them milling around Englishing everything for effect.
Between Downton Abbey episodes, the kids and I did some cookie decorating. Our friends have a son who is really into Angry Birds. I mean, really into Angry Birds — not only does he play the game, he has the board game, pillow cushions, plush toys — you get the picture. I took a Downton Abbey quiz and discovered that my Downton Abbey character is the Earl of Grantham, so you will not be surprised to know that I’ve actually never played. We wanted to thank this family for something, so we made these cookies. I used the shortbread recipe I usually use, this time without subbing the coconut oil for butter (in truth, I haven’t found anything that tastes quite as much like butter as butter). The kids started out by doing some sketches:
I prepared the frosting, using for the first time the plastic wrap method from Karen’s Cookies, which worked GREAT and made for very little mess. Then I outlined the cookies in black.
Next, flooded them:
(If you’re looking for a great tutorial on working with royal icing, visit Sweetopia, but on the condition that you do not compare her cookies to mine.)
We had to allow for drying time between layers, but it was easy enough to add eyes and fill in the beaks.
This was a first run, so I’d do some things differently. For one, you’ve probably noticed I didn’t follow the sketches. But I laid out this page to make it seem like I did. Next time, I’ll follow the sketches. I also started out outlining the eyeballs in black, but it made the birds look myopic and possibly Silicon Valley hipster geek-ish, and not quite as angry as I hoped. You’ll notice the bird just underneath the penguin in the photo above looks more like Concerned Bird than Angry Bird…and the beaks on the yellow birds makes them look like Twilight fans with goth lipstick. Should not have done them in black. For the pigs, I should have flooded the whole circle first and then drawn in the detail, instead of having done the eyes and nose as part of the initial outline. And those things that were supposed to be ears? I should have skipped them.
Here are our other cookies. Here you’ll see Deranged Pig, Deeply Disturbed Pig, butterflies, a happy face and a bunny that must be related somehow to Charlie Chaplin.
It was a good way to spend a Saturday. Actually, I had totally forgotten that my husband had invited a friend over at 1, so at 12:50 I was still in pajamas, a hideous hair clip and had gel paste food coloring all over my hands. I ran upstairs to get dressed and the gel paste coloring was getting everywhere — like when I put moisturizer on my face, it was green. See, I do need servants.
Have any ideas for a Downton Abbey party? Please share!