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From cakes to cookies: Meet Valerie!

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!

Valerie Lindsley…isn’t she cute?

Valerie Lindsley…isn’t she cute?

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.

Who doesn’t love a paint your own cookie?

Who doesn’t love a paint your own cookie?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Playing around with extra icing!

Playing around with extra icing!

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.

Christmas cookies with a 2T’s stencil and a royal icing crush…or border :)

Christmas cookies with a 2T’s stencil and a royal icing crush…or border 🙂

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.

My nephew, Jaden, loving decorating!

My nephew, Jaden, loving decorating!

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.

Beautiful use of Isomalt on cookies..jpg
Cake International 2018 entry. Cookies for Santa..jpg
Cake International 2018 entry. More Cookies for Santa..jpg
Cake International 2018.jpg
Cookies for Santa entry. Cake International 2018..jpg
Could these cookies look any more real..jpg
More Cake International 2018.jpg
So much talent on such a small medium. CI 2018.jpg

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.

My niece, Dominique, loving cookie decorating!

My niece, Dominique, loving cookie decorating!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Yay! Valerie is the best! Thank you for doing a blog on her. She got me into cake decorating in 2017 through her evening classes and then converted me into a cookie just a few months ago. Her enthusiasm is contagious and I can’t thank (blame) her enough for my newfound hobby!

  2. CookieSue

    You nailed it, Val! Working in both the cake and cookie world offers exciting new challenges, and it’s fun to figure out ways to translate cake tech to cookie tech!

  3. As Valerie said, she started decorating cakes with me and has progressed to do wonderful cakes, become a cake decorating teacher (an expert at Macarons, I might add), and a wonderful friend. I never decorated cookies because I thought they were just too much trouble. I’m 71 now and have basically given up cake decorating because I can’t lift big heavy cakes anymore. I really missed it, then Val invited me over to decorate what I thought were Christmas cookies. I am truly a blessed person because when we were decorating the McGoo December cookies, Valerie and my friend Kevie White, announced they had bought me a years subscription to McGoo for Christmas! Now who but me could get that lucky!! Anyway, as time has passed the last few months, I have come to LOVE cookie decorating. As an older person, it is so much more do-able for me. Cookies are small and easy for me to work with. I can’t thank Val and Kevie enough for giving me this wonderful gift. I’d like to encourage other “old” people like myself to consider the cookie world. It is truly fascinating. I’d also like to thank Valerie for keeping our “Breakfast Club” going, she is the leader among us and keeps us organized. Thanks forever to my wonderful friends! Linda

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