I would venture to say that almost everyone has their go to rolled sugar cookie recipe. I would also bet that they are always willing to try a new one too.
Truth is, I have yet to find my “go to” recipe. I don’t make rolled cookies enough to even think about it. I prefer a bar cookie first, followed by drop cookies. I usually go for the easy way out.
So for Christmas this year, I thought I would make a few different recipes and go from there. I searched the food blog world and my books and narrowed it down to two. The first was Dori Greenspan’s “Grandma’s All Occasion Sugar Cookies” from her Baking, From my home to yours, book. The other I found at Cast Sugar, and this post. I chose the last recipe after reading the post summary.
My goal is was to find a cookie that rolled easily, puffed little or none during baking, combined with a crispy edge, soft center and a great taste. This cookie would have a lot to live up to.
To make a long post a little shorter I will tell you what I decided. Dorie’s recipe was easy to prepare and had an overall good taste. My two complaints were, one: the soft dough made it somewhat difficult to roll and two: they did puff quite a bit. The dough was well chilled, as was the pan, so I don’t think temperature played an issue. It still produced a great cookie to decorate and eat.
Now on to the recipe from Cast Sugar. The dough was very, very easy to put together. Though the recipe didn’t state to chill the dough, I did due to preparing the dough early in the morning. Rolling? It was quite a change from Dorie’s. The dough was soft, but the perfect softness. I give rolling this dough a 10, no doubt. Next was baking. The dough puffed, from what I could tell, none. Which kept the shapes, especially those that were smaller and more intricate, from being “deformed”. Finally, their taste. No complaints at all. My s-i-l said the zest was wonderful, the kids weren’t real hip on it, but I am sure you can leave it out and still have a wonderful cookie.
So I guess I have a go to sugar cookie recipe now. No offense at all to Dorie’s recipe, I just think this one has my name on it. I have posted both recipe’s below.
Rolled Sugar Cookies – From Cast Sugar
- ½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. grated lemon zest (don’t like zest? Try 2 tsp. vanilla paste)
- 1 large egg
- 1¾ c. all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Royal icing for decorating
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a food processor, combine the butter, granulated sugar, and zest and pulse until creamy. Add the egg and pulse 5 or 6 times until fluffy and blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the food processor and process until blended, about 45 seconds. Add the remaining flour in two batches, processing after each addition until the dough is smooth.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, shape into a ball, and then roll out 1/8-inch thick (you can also chill the dough for about half an hour if you’d like, it helps in rolling out the dough). Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes. Then, using a spatula, transfer the cutouts to the baking sheets. Gather up the dough scraps, form into a ball, roll out and cut more shapes, and add to the baking sheets.
Bake until lightly browned on the bottom and pale golden on top, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to the racks alone to cool completely.
Decorate the cooled cookies with royal icing, chocolate ganache, sprinkles, etc. etc. etc.
Copied from her book Baking, from my home to yours, (pg. 146 – 147)
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, preferably 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 finish the 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.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
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.
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.