Saturday, July 11, 2015

How to Organize a Cookie Decorating Area

If you decorate cookies and cakes on a regular basis, chances are you have accumulated a good amount of sweet edible embellishments and decorating tools to help you in the decorating process.  It's a good idea to dedicate a space in your kitchen, no matter how small, to house the various tools and sweet, sparkly sprinkles in an orderly way.
I don't have a large kitchen with an infinite amount of storage space, but everything here has its place.  Working with what I have, I try to make the most of the cabinets, shelves and drawers.  With an infusion of cookie cutters that were purchased recently from a dear friend and cookie decorating items which were given to me by that very same individual, my need for a specific cookie decorating station has forced me to move and consolidate my tools.

This small area in the kitchen next to the center hall is where I used to have all of my cookie decorating equipment, so naturally that's where I began to put everything when I started to organize the new stuff.  About halfway through the process I decided to stop.  I knew it wasn't going to work.  Although I had three shelves and two small drawers to work with, it was an area of the kitchen that felt removed from my cookie decorating area.  I decided it was time for a change.  

Let me show you how to organize a cookie decorating area without the need for a lot of space.

With only two deep drawers, I have managed to bundle every single item that I absolutely need to decorate the various cookies that you've seen me create here on Good Things by David.  Everything is now sitting within easy reach from my dough counter, next to the large window in the pantry area.  

The top drawer has the most frequently used tools and items that are essentials for my cookie decorating.  Cases of plain piping tips, food coloring, food writing pens, a large roll of disposable pastry bags, the 'essential' cookie cutter shapes from Ateco and De Buyer, plus powder coated steel boxes with smaller tools are located in this one drawer.  

Food Colors:  the large Americolor bottles of food coloring which are very concentrated, along with some smaller ones, were gifts from my good friend, Janet. She was divesting herself of many of her cookie pantry items and decided to have these bottles make their way into my home.  Thank You Janet!  Keep reading, you'll see what I mean.  

Rather than throwing them into the drawer haphazardly, I gathered the colors and placed them in shallow porcelain baking dishes so that I could pull out the entire bunch if I needed to.  Those round biscuit cutters are always used in the kitchen for a multitude of tasks.  

In the other corner, I've stacked my nesting De Buyer and Ateco cookie cutters in generic shapes such as stars, squares, plain rounds, ovals, hearts, scalloped squares and scalloped rounds.  These are must-haves for every cookie baker, because they are extremely versatile.  A Ball jar (sans lid) sits there with a group of writing pens at the ready.  The green steel boxes (they're from Ikea) are ideal for organizing small items.  

This is what I have in them.

Everything from my pastry bag and squeeze bottle couplers, to small cookie cutters, spatulas, tweezers, gift tags and spools of waxed linen twine are gathered into these wonderful boxes.  They are extremely durable.

Oversized piping tips (meant for cakes not cookies!) are placed in the box with all of my plastic couplers.  It's a good idea to have at least one dozen of these couplers since they are inexpensive, and it's wise to have them in one area so that they don't get buried in some drawer.  This way you can work with a multitude of colors when decorating cookies.

I'm always gifting or handing out many of my cookies to friends, family and neighbors, so I have to have some tags and baker's twine nearby to package up my treats.  Those spools of Irish waxed linen twine were a Martha by Mail item, as were the large round, metal-rimmed gift tags.  I've even given out spools of this twine to my closest friends!  They know who they are. 

Small spatulas, fine paint brushes, piping tip cleaners, tweezers, and even a chocolate dipping fork are kept in one box.  I find all of these things to be essentials when decorating cookies.  When I'm ready to start a decorating project, I remove this box from the drawer and keep it nearby.  

Those star cookie cutters are by Wilton and the small heart is a Martha by Mail item.  The round tin of cookie cutters were a recent gift from my friend Chris.  He immediately thought of me when he spotted them at a kitchenwares store in Connecticut.

Tiny alphabet cookie cutters!  These are no bigger than 1" each if that, but they are super cute.  I have ideas to use these when appliquéing cookie messages onto a larger cookie, but I can also see them stamping out messages on cakes.  Thank you for these, Chris, and yes, I will use them soon! 

The bottom drawer is all about sugars and sprinkles.  These are also kept in powder coated steel boxes and even antique Ball jars.  The middle part of the drawer has my trusted Wilton meringue powder for that special royal icing that gets added to decorated sugar cookies.  

Janet's Cookie Decorating Pantry is something that always inspired awe in me because it was a one stop area for anything related to cookie decorating. From food coloring to cookie stamps, cookie cutters to sprinkles, Janet had it all in one centralized area.  This was cookie decorating heaven!

This is a small sampling of what Janet sent me one day as a surprise. You see, Janet made a few changes in her life recently, and ending her large scale cookie decorating projects was one thing she decided to do. If you want me to be honest, I mourned this because I always enjoyed Janet's cookies on her blog.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has missed her wonderful creations (folks, I tried to get her to change her mind, but she was adamant). Throughout the months I will show bits and pieces of what came that day. After I got over the initial shock of these cookie decorating gifts, I had to call her immediately.  Yes, there were tears.  

PS: I did buy a bulk of her copper cookie cutter collection, but we'll save that for another organizing post.   

Some bulk sanding sugars and snowball candies, as well as nonpareils, were decanted into many antique Ball jars that were sitting in a cupboard.  What I love about storing these things in Ball jars is that they are easily spotted through the glass, and I can easily scoop out what I need without any trouble or replenish an item when it's empty.  Look at those sugar gnomes and the edible stars!  If those gnomes seem familiar, they are the exact ones I used for my friend's surprise package of garden cookies.  

Jars of fine and coarse sanding sugars were put into one bin, while nonpareils and sprinkles, and other candies, were placed in another box.  These larger boxes are quite deep and tall enough to house the largest of sprinkle containers.  

Once they're closed, I don't have to look at endless bottles of sugars.  

Done!  As I said, only two drawers, but everything within easy reach. 


You don't have to have a large area or an abundance of items to decorate wonderful cookies, but it is wise to have everything you need in one centralized location.  Look at your kitchen and work with the space around you.  Buy steel boxes like I have to keep the chaos of sugar bottles and sprinkles under control, and then either put them in cupboards or drawers, or place them on a baker's rack.  Wherever you decide to house these items in your kitchen, make sure that it's an area where you don't have to take more than a few steps to get to when you're decorating cookies.  It's the difference between making cookie decorating a pleasure, versus making it seem like a dreaded chore or task.  

I'm so glad that I now have a dedicated cookie decorating area in my kitchen.

4 comments:

  1. Oh, David! Bravo, you! First... I must say that seeing your MBM twine reminds me of how completely overwhelmed I was when you sent me a small stash of my own. I cherish it; and, just like you, I am VERY selective with whom to share it. If someone gets something embellished with a bit of that twine, they better know how special they are to me (and be grateful - ha!).

    But I digress... You have outdone yourself (again!) in the organization of your baking and decorating tools. As you know, it's the only way to be... Since every baking/cooking task is made easier and more fun through the foundation of good organization or to be more correct, Mise en place!

    You are so very generous in your compliment of my cookie creating - Thank you! But honestly, 90% of what I did was simply imitation of your work that you so kindly share with all of us who enjoy your incredible blog! I'm looking forward to seeing my collections live on through your work. You've already delighted me - more than I can say - with your use of the gnome sugar decorations on your charming garden house cookies.

    Keep up the great work and know that I'll always be indebted to you for your kindness and friendship!

    xo

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  2. Janet, words will never correctly express how I feel about the friendship we share. I was honest when I said that I went through my private mourning period when I found out you weren't going to be making cookies. When I received those parcels I was shedding tears because I thought: "is this really happening? Has Janet really called it quits and did I just receive this?" You know what I mean? It was plain shock!

    I hope I can do justice to the items you were so generous in giving me, AND I hope I can be inspired by your friendship to use the cookie cutters that went from your pantry to mine.

    Here's to true friendship!

    Bisous,
    David

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  3. You are the ultimate cookie guy!!!

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  4. Haha! I've been dubbed the "cookie man" by some friends. :)

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