Hi everyone, this is Kim. When I attended a Cookie Roundup last year, I met Val Lindsley. She was funny, enthusiastic, and pretty new to the cookie scene. (Oh, and she has great hair!) You see, she’s been a cake decorator for years and is even the head honcho of the California Cake Club. Well, she’s jumped into cookie-ing with both feet (who could blame her?) and I wondered how she felt about the transition from a large canvas to a smaller one. So I asked her to share her journey from cakes to cookies with us; you’re welcome!
Where to start?
My name is Valerie Lindsley. I’m the President of the California Cake Club. I started making cakes in about 2005. Officially. I had been playing around with them for a few years just making basic borders and such but I actually took lessons in 2005 and it’s just gotten crazy from there. I started teaching basics in 2008 at an adult education school as well as my local cake shop, Do It With Icing.
When I was asked by Kim to talk about what it’s like to come to the cookie world from the cake side, I thought, “well, doesn’t everyone start there? What’s the big deal?” I have definitely come to realize that not everyone comes to cookie decorating that way.
I’m pretty much a sugar tool hoarder. My excuse has always been, hey, if I sell a cake, I get to buy a tool. So, because of that I have, literally, rooms full of “stuff” all pretty much related to cakes, cookies and sugar in general. I’m learning how to incorporate the cake and sugar tools to cookies. Pretty much the same thing, right? Just smaller.
I would say there are two major differences between Cakers and cookiers:
The obvious. Cakes are bigger than cookies. Duh, right? This really comes into play when you are working on developing new recipes or new decorating techniques. What do you do with all that research?? Unless you work or live in an environment where you have lots of people to give it to, you and your family can get really tired of cake. I was fortunate to be working in a law office where anything sweet is gobbled up. When you are working with cookies, you don’t have quite so much R&D to “share.” It is much easier to freeze cookies for later as well.
Cookie People vs. Cake People. Yes, there really is a difference. I used to think that a sugar artist was a sugar artist. That included all mediums and techniques. Everything lumped together. Boy, was I wrong. With the sudden popularity of all things cake, lots of new people entered the field. The innovation was staggering and people wanted credit and recognition for everything they did. At times this has led to some really bad exchanges on every social media platform on the planet. I really haven’t seen anything even close to that on cookie sites and groups.
I don’t want to say anything negative about anyone in particular, but let’s just say that the openness and willingness of the cookie community to share their ideas, recipes, techniques and just about everything they know with fellow Cookiers is really refreshing. Enough said about that.
Let’s talk about borders. Cakers have a tendency to put borders on every cake. It just finishes the cake. Cookiers don’t need borders. Some decorators (Um, me.) still put them on everything, but I’m definitely seeing a trend away from them.
Then there’s royal Icing. When discussing this article with Linda Bills, the owner of the now closed Do It With Icing and a fellow McGoober, she said that she had always been taught a couple of things about royal icing. The first was never, ever put royal in the refrigerator. Cookiers do it all the time without any ill effects. And they even freeze it!! Who knew?? The second thing was never keep it in plastic. Well, many cookiers use plastic squeeze bottles and keep their icing in the bags until ready to use it. Just squish it up and proceed if it starts to separate.
One thing I’m learning about this new path is that I’m loving sharing with the cookie world my knowledge of “cake” techniques that may enhance cookies as well as learning new ways to use techniques and mediums that I may be familiar with on a much smaller scale.
I have been blessed the past two years to attend Cake International in Birmingham, England. The first year, 2017, I was enamored with all of the 1600 entries, mostly cakes. Last year, 2018, I couldn’t stay away from all the beautiful cookies. The theme for cookies was Cookies for Santa. I’ve attached some of the ones that really caught my eye. It was amazing to see so many cookie artists from all over the world competing. Each and every entry was spectacular.
So, as I’ve said, I love the cookie world and I am so happy to be a part of it in my small way.