Sunday, 16 June 2013
♫ High Five to my students! ♫
As the school year draws to a close, I thought I would share with you the baking I did for my piano students, as their 'student appreciation' gifts! There are so many teacher appreciation gift ideas around, but I love to give my students a little treat at the end of the year, at Christmas time and before the Summer break. Just a little something to reward their hard work and their piano achievements during the year.
This year they have made me a very proud piano teacher! ♫ I had 5 students taking their VERY FIRST ever piano exams this April and they all did SO well, some with really great marks and comments/feedback so I am very very proud of them for all they achieved. I have another 2 with Summer time exams and I am so looking forward to being there for them and working with them on these.
Yesterday was also our Summer recital, and the students of mine who were able to perform did a fantastic job, worked hard on their pieces and played really well, having fun at the same time :-)
Of course there have been a number of challenges too this year, there's the constant battle of practice with some children... some frustrated learning difficulties... etc etc, but this never wins over the amazing job my students do, the hard work they can put in, and the good feeling they get when they master something tricky.
Hence my reward for them at the end of the year too! This year I wanted to bake them a 'High Five' cookie, as I had never used a hand shaped Wilton cookie cutter I bought years ago (I think in Edinburgh 2010!) but knew would be perfect for this little treat :-)
I included a little note on the packaging saying "Well done on a great year of piano. Keep playing this Summer :-)". Now not all of my students have had these cookies yet, so parents, if you're reading sshhh, don't tell them! I teach at a school who is done for the year so our lessons are done for a while. I have a bunch of students continuing with Summer lessons but I decided to give out the cookies now anyway, as the end of school year treat. My in-home students will be getting theirs in the final week of June! I hope the note reinforces what I have been telling them about continuing to play. I also gave students who I will not see over the Summer an activity pack, with some piano challenges, things to try at home this Summer in their playing, some Summer activity worksheets and some manuscript paper to compose some of their own music. Let's just hope everybody keeps their fingers in piano mode, and they don't forget their 'piano brains' before September!!
So, about these cookies...
I baked a sugar cookie using a recipe I had used before. It was a simple recipe to make, and kept it's shape pretty well, which was lucky as I was a little worried about how the fingers would look once cooked. Especially as this was the first time I had used the cutter.
Ingredients all ready to go. But in case you can't guess what the measurements are from this, I'll write the recipe down too :-P The recipe I made states it makes 4 dozen cookies - I haven't used the whole batch yet but at the end of June I'll let you know how many of the hands it made :-)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F and then in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in eggs and lemon extract.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until easy to handle.
5. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness...
Alright, with a chunk of dough ready to go I got rolling and cutting before placing my cookies on a greased baking sheet and baking for 7-9 minutes (or until lightly browned).
I LOVE the hand shape and am already thinking about other ways to use these cutters again. Perhaps engagement cookies? A silver ring and silver ball for a new shiny ring celebration!?! A 'helping hand' cookie? Hmm, what else?
I went with the 'High Five'... which kid doesn't love to give/get a high five!? And this one's edible :-) While the cookies were cooling I made these labels in Word and printed them on coloured card. Chopped and hole punched, they were ready! Should I make these into a PDF for all to share and print? I think I will...just bear with me, it will be here in a couple of days :-)
Cookies cooled, and seeing as my first few were going to be given out the following day, although it was late in the evening (as most of my baking ends up being) I thought I should get going on the royal icing decorations, just in case it took a while to dry. I didn't want the humid weather to mean everything was still sticky when I had to package them up!
A little outline test to check the fingers would still be seen once the icing was there and then I got to work on piping and flooding the cookies.
I used a Royal Icing recipe using 2 large egg whites, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and 3 cups icing sugar mixed together and coloured some of this blue. You may need more/less than this, I had some leftover from the initial 15 cookies I made but haven't finished yet, so I'll make some more icing at the end of June.
Late in the evening meant I didn't want to have to stop and get photos every few minutes as I went along, so Jonathan kindly took a few while I worked! Please excuse the blurry moving ones, I obviously didn't want to stop with that icing, not even for a second!
The risk luckily paid off, and the writing was fine so I managed to get everything done before bed! I was super pleased with the blue on white and the writing I piped. Most of them anyway. I had made a few extra which meant for some practice runs and/or discard cookies...discard into our tummies that is!
The next morning I did some photos before packaging them up ready to be given out at the end of each final lesson!
I've got a batch of cookie dough in the freezer, and the other high five tags already cut out so just a little more baking to go and all of my students will be well and truly 'appreciated' in my piano students' favourite way...food treats!
Congratulations on a GREAT year of piano everybody, you make me so proud! :-) ♫