[EDITOR'S NOTE: Did you know that all members, not just official Cookie Connection contributors, can submit blog tutorials for possible posting on this site?! Well, they can, and what you're about to read is a lovely one written by Laegwen, aka Leoni Eckart, that follows closely on the heels of her recent gumpaste lavender tut. Thank you, Leoni, for taking the time and effort to enrich the site with wonderful blog posts - not just once, but now twice! ~JMU]
When I was a kid, one of my father’s colleagues, Mr. Oshiro, introduced me to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Several weeks later, our local summer vacation program offered an origami course for children. That was it - I was lost. I spent the next decade doing origami and bought any book I could get about it. (Yes, this was before the blessings of the internet!) Eventually, my origami obsession faded away, but I still like to fold the occasional crane once in a while. I never counted them, but I guess I must be close to the magical 1,000!
I've wanted to adapt the look of folded paper to cookies for quite a while now, and gumpaste seemed like the natural choice. Sadly, there are not many tutorials about how to turn gumpaste into origami-like objects. The crane was about the only one I could find. There are several templates flying around the net, all of them alike, so I took them as a starting point and made some personal adjustments. The cherry blossom, on the other hand, is completely my own. You will find both crane and blossom templates later in this post, and also attached.
Now let’s get started, shall we?
- Gumpaste (I used two different shades of pink: a darker one for the blossoms and a very light one for the crane, both made with Wilton Rose gel color.)
- Celboard or any other non-stick surface, for rolling out gumpaste
- Small rolling pin
- Cherry blossom and crane cardboard templates, as shown below and attached (You can adjust the size to your needs, of course. My cherry blossom was 2 cm/0.8 in wide, and my crane wing was 3.2 cm/1.3 in long.)
- Wheel tool, for cutting around templates
- Veining tool, for holding down templates, lifting tiny pieces, and making embossed creases
- Storage book or plastic wrap, to prevent cut pieces from drying out while not working on them
- Corn starch, to dust gumpaste surface before folding
- Soft brush, to apply corn starch
- Scribe tool, to help fold and unfold gumpaste
- Folded paper, on which to dry gumpaste
- Edible glue and brush
- Cotton, to support wings of crane while drying
- Cloud-shaped cookie approximately 10 cm/3.9 in long
- Icing of soft peak consistency, white and light blue (I used Wilton Sky gel color.)
- Knife, to spread icing
- Brown icing of soft peak consistency
- Piping bag and round tip (I used PME #2.)
To shape and assemble the cherry blossoms:
Start by rolling out the dark pink gumpaste on your celboard to a very, very thin thickness, using the small rolling pin. I cannot give a precise thickness, but if you think it is thin enough, it probably isn’t. Keep rolling a bit more and have in mind that you are trying to get it to resemble paper – get as close to paper-thickness as possible.
Place the template for the cherry blossom (see photo below, top left) on top of the gumpaste and cut around it with the wheel tool. If you find it hard to hold the template in place, use the veining tool to hold it down. Don’t worry if the edges are not as clean as when cut with a cutter; any roughness will not show a lot in the finished blossom. You will need two pieces for each blossom, one for the bottom and one for the top. Don’t cut too many pieces at once. The gumpaste dries pretty quickly, as it is very thin, and cutting with a wheel tool takes some time. I recommend not doing more than six pieces/three blossoms in one go. Remove the excess gumpaste from around the cut blossoms with the help of the veining tool, and store your pieces either in a storage book or under plastic wrap. Only take out the one you are actually working on.
Place one piece on your celboard, and lightly dust its surface with corn starch (as shown above, bottom left). This step is very important, as corn starch prevents the surface from sticking while folding it. Fold the piece along the lines indicated on the template. Dust with corn starch whenever the surface becomes sticky, or you will not be able to unfold it again. But don’t overdo it, or the gumpaste will become brittle. Use the scribe tool to help shape the piece as shown in the picture above. The crease that bisects the flat edge should point up, and the crease that bisects the v-shaped corner should point down. This is the bottom piece of your cherry blossom. It needs to dry at least 5 to 10 minutes before you can proceed.
For the top part of the blossom, take another piece and cut it with your wheel tool as shown in the picture directly above. You should end up with four little hearts. It is easiest to shape these hearts directly on the folded paper on which they will dry. The parts are very tiny and not easy to handle, so use your veining tool and/or scribe tool to step in where your fingers are too large. The top parts should dry long enough to be somewhat stable, but they still need to be a little flexible. Drying usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on temperature and humidity.
To assemble the blossom take one bottom part, apply a bit of edible glue in the crevices pointing toward the v-shaped corners, and place a top part on each crevice. Use your scribe tool to gently push the petals into shape and position. They should be pointing upwards, but not too much - just like actual folded paper blossoms! For an example of what you are trying to achieve, take a look at this paper blossom.
Now the flowers can be left to dry. They will be totally hard after about 6 to 12 hours, but you can attach them to your cookies a lot sooner than this. One hour will do if you handle them carefully.
To shape the crane parts:
The next step is your crane. The overall procedure is very much like the blossom. Place your templates on very thinly rolled light pink gumpaste, cut around them with the wheel tool, remove the excess gumpaste, and store the pieces under plastic wrap.
You will need 9 pieces for each crane, as indicated in the templates below: 1 body part, 2 large triangles for the head/neck and tail, 4 small triangles for the lower wings, and 2 polygons for the upper wings. I recommend not cutting out pieces for more than one crane at a time.
Start by folding the body of the crane as indicated on the template (don’t forget to dust with corn starch!) and then gently push in the two sides. You can see the result in the picture directly below (upper right). The body needs to dry about 30 minutes; it should be firm enough to hold its shape, but still flexible enough for some reshaping.
The head/neck and tail need to dry over folded paper, just like the top parts of the cherry blossom (see photo above, upper left). For the tail, just fold in the middle; for the head/neck, fold down the end too, to create a beak. These pieces also need to dry long enough to hold their shape, but still be flexible.
Now take out the wings and emboss a crease down the center (see photo above, lower left). You can do this with your wheel tool, a veining tool (which I prefer), or even a scribe tool. Just be careful that you don’t cut the pieces in half! Fold them at a right angle along their midsections, and let them dry this way on any surface with a right angle (see photo above, lower right). I used a box of powdered sugar to shape them. Just like the other parts of the crane, the wings will need to be firm but still flexible to proceed.
To assemble the cranes:
Take the tail and apply edible glue along its lower third on both sides; then insert it into the body. Use your scribe tool to push it into place. The correct position is slightly angled, so the lower edge of tail is aligned with the lower part of the body, as shown in the photo below (top left). Now do the same with the head. Let everything rest about 5 minutes to allow the glue to do its work.
Once the body is dry enough, attach the wings. Apply edible glue to the side of the body, and put the wings in place. The v-shaped bottom parts should be aligned. Use your scribe tool to help push the surfaces together. Place the crane standing up, and put some cotton under its wings, as shown above (bottom left), until they are dry enough to hold their shape. Again, the whole bird needs to dry some more, approximately 30 minutes.
The last step is to attach the lower parts of the wings, as shown above (right). Apply a bit of edible glue to the respective parts of the crane body and take out your triangles from their airtight protection. Those tiny triangles are very challenging, both to cut out and to handle. If they don’t fit seamlessly, don’t worry - that is what nail scissors were invented for! Just cut off any excess and proudly admire your ready crane. The whole bird will take fairly long to thoroughly dry, as it has several layers, especially at the bottom. My bird took more than 24 hours.
As an optional step, you can paint the crane with an origami-like pattern after it has completely dried. I used a 10/0 brush along with Rainbow Dust Metallic Gold Treasure powder, Wilton Rose gel color, and Wilton Kelly Green gel color, all extended with vodka. I also dusted the centers of the cherry blossoms with Sugarflair Yellow powder.
And, lastly, to assemble your gumpaste creations on a cookie pond:
Gather your cloud-shaped cookie and two soft peak icings, one in white and the other in light blue. Spread the white icing with a knife to cover the entire cookie, and then apply a thin layer of blue icing immediately after the white. Swirl the two colors into each other until you are content with the result. Let the surface dry about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare your brown icing. (I took the remaining white and blue icing, and added a lot of Wilton Brown gel color and a few touches of Wilton Black.) Pipe a branch onto your cookie, using a medium-wide piping tip, such as PME #2. Pipe a dot of the icing onto the back of your cherry blossoms, and "glue" them onto the branch. Pipe a bit of icing (preferably white, as the brown might show) onto the bottom of your crane, and place it next to the branch.
And, ta-da! Your origami-style cookie is ready!
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks again to Leoni for such a creative springtime post! If you're ready to try your hand at writing a Cookie Connection tutorial, I'd love to see what you've got! But first, please read our tips and suggestions for posting to the blog, here.]
Cookie and photo credits: Laegwen aka Leoni Eckart
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