I’ve been making sugar cookies for a few years now, but only for special occasions. This means I don’t make them all the time and I get a little rusty, but it’s kind of like riding a bike…once you do it you don’t forget how…or at least you remember most of what needs to be done.
I don’t take credit for any of my designs. I’m good at copying so when the need for fancy cookies arises, I search the internet for inspiration and then I copy as best I can. This means that you, yes – YOU – can make these cookies too! I’m a self-taught baker and cook so I really believe anyone can do this with a little practice and determination.
First off, the sugar cookie recipe. This is the only recipe I use, and I swear by it (and so does everyone that eats my cookies)! It’s from Sweetapolita and includes instructions for making cookie pops. I started out by making pops, but then got lazy and realized people were as equally impressed by a decorated cookie as there were by a decorated cookie on a stick. Click here for the original recipe or keep scrolling to see my version at the bottom of this page. It includes my shortcuts and changes as well as some other tips. Most importantly, I cut the recipe in half because my stand mixer almost jumped off my counter the first time I made the recipe. The dough climbed up my mixer attachment and it was a mess!
The recipe and tips for decorating with royal icing are in my next post.
I don’t deviate from the ingredients in the recipe! And, I always freeze for 10 minutes before baking. If you don’t, well…ever see this picture on the interwebz? That really will be your cookies if you don’t freeze your cut dough shapes before baking!
The other change that I make is rolling the dough to 5/8″ thick instead of 1/4″. You will need (clean) dowels for this. I love the taste of the cookie and I guess I like a slightly larger cookie to icing ratio. Of course, by rolling thicker cookies you won’t yield quite as many per batch as Sweetapolita does. The other thing I do is use a postal scale to precisely measure the weights (in grams) of all of my ingredients. This seems pretty anal, but perfection does require a little extra effort. If you don’t have a postal scale (really, who does?) then a reliable kitchen scale will work. You can get one here.
If you get hooked into cookie making, I suggest buying a bunch of cookie cutters. You will invariably need to buy more, but something like Wilton’s 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set will get you off to a great start.
As I say with all of my recipes, I prefer to use organic ingredients whenever possible. Of course, substitute for conventional ingredients so you can get your daily dose of GMOs (wink wink).
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose organic flour, sifted
- ½ teaspoon (4 g) salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) organic sugar
- 1 large organic egg, cold
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract - organic
- ⅛ teaspoon pure lemon extract - organic
- In large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg.
- Add vanilla and lemon extract and mix until incorporated.
- Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. *Do not overmix! Once the dough comes away from the side of the bowl, turn off the mixer.
- Remove ½ of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter. Make a disc about 2" thick and cover with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Remove discs and let sit on the counter for 10 minutes. This softens the dough enough to make it easy to roll, but still keeping it cold. If you are super strong (not me), go ahead and roll it right out of the refrigerator. I cannot seem to do this successfully!
- Place disc on top of a large piece of parchment paper. I put the parchment on a large cutting board on top of our kitchen table. We have tall counters and I get better rolling leverage when placed on the table which is shorter than our counters. Place two ⅝" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
- Roll dough so it's even with the dowels. You should not see any speed bumps in the dough. If you do, keep rolling until it's entirely smooth and an even thickness.
- Cut your shapes and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. Re-roll excess dough. Waste not want not! Place the cut shapes in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. I find that by the time my oven is hot, my cookies are semi-frozen.
- Remove cookies from freezer and place on another parchment (or silpat) lined cookie sheet. Place cookies at least 1" (one inch) away from each other and away from the edge of the cookie sheet.
- Bake 14 - 16 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Sometimes the edges of my cookies do not brown, but the bottoms do. It may take a little trial and error to find the right baking time.
- Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.
- Cookies can be made ahead of time (without decorating) as long as they are stored at room temperature in an airtight container. They will last 2 weeks. You can also freeze them.
Looking for the royal icing recipe? Click the link.