I’m the type easily tempted by a slight discount on cookbooks and bakeware. Often, I find myself wanting to buy a discounted cookbook of which I know I’ll probably never use- but the pictures are so tempting! Just last year, after christmas, we were shopping at Target when I came across a christmas cookie cutter and cake tin set, with a really cute rolling pin and brush reduced to only $4! Having never baked sugar cookies before, and rarely baking butter cakes I knew that I’d probably never use it. But a girl can never have enough bakeware and so I purchased my first ever set of cookie cutters- and funny shaped cake tins.
As I had suspected, they lay in the cupboard for almost two years, which is partly because it’s strange to make christmas shaped bakes when it isn’t christmas. Until Star day at school turned up. Because one of those cookie cutters were star shaped! You might remember the yellow cupcakes I made for the same occasion- the theme was yellow, but I thought star shaped yellow cookies would be perfect!
………..Or not so yellow
With butter cake, butter cream and now sugar cookies, I ended up using quite a lot of butter and sugar. Good thing that I didn’t have too many left for myself or my family! The house smelt like butter, my hands were all oily and so was the whole kitchen- mainly the tabltetop. The trays, bowls utensils took forever to wash. But it was definitely worth it!
This was the first time I made sugar cookies as I personally prefer choc chip cookies type cookies aka the type which you just throw onto the tray and bake. Personally, the sugar cookie appeals to me only in the decorating, no so much in the actual cookie itself. Inspired by the numerous blogs I’d read which had beautiful sugar cookies iced with royal icing, I decided to give it a try.
The original plan was to make royal icing and pipe some patterns onto the cookies. But then I decided against it at the last moment, scared that I would give everyone food posioning (with the raw egg whites, salmonella and everything) so I decided on just normal sugar icing made of icing sugar mixed with water/milk. The coobook had made it look exactly like royal icing. Much to my dissappointment, it looked like anything but royal icing when i made it.
The icing itself did not turn out pure white as the cookbook has illustrated. Then, eventually, it got contaminated with the yellow icing (don’t ask!) and so I was left with yellow, and a weird coloured icing. I tried piping patterns but the colour just wouldn’t come out nicely so I resorted to sprinkling them with hundreds and thousands. Tastewise, I don’t really like hundreds and thousands as I don’t like the texture but it made the cookies look not as pathetic as they were.
Yield: About 50 2-inch cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
Working with a stand mixer, perferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated – because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finisht eh job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.
Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you – I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies – I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.
If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.
Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.