Decorated sugar cookies are a basic recipe that every established baker needs in their arsenal. I’ve got the frosting down, but I’ve haven’t quite found the right cookie.
It’s a tall order. I want a sugar cookie that’s super tender with only, maybe, if absolutely necessary, the smallest bit of crispness to it, just on the edges. I want it to be flavorful enough to eat on its own, but made that much better by frosting. I want it to be easy to roll out. And I want it to use butter and no shortening.
These cookies were described as soft and chewy with great butter flavor, so it seemed like a good recipe to try. Except that they weren’t soft. Damn it. The recipe specifically says bake for 6-9 minutes or they’ll be crisp, and it’s possible that I, um, didn’t bother to set a timer. In my defense, I took them out of the oven when they were just showing a bit of browning on the bottom edge; the bottom of each cookie is a nice light gold.
Whether they’re overcooked or not, I have a feeling this isn’t my ideal sugar cookie recipe. My problem is actually that the dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated before being rolled out. For the dough to be unsticky enough to be rolled without chilling, it has to have quite a bit of flour in it. I think the flour contributes to the crispness of the cookie, and of course it detracts from the butter and sugar flavors that cookies are all about.
If you have the perfect sugar cookie recipe, please let me know! In the meantime, I’ll be making this one with a half cup less flour. And then trying not to eat frosting by the spoonful.
Update 11.4.08: I still had dough in the fridge after I posted this entry. After reading bakingblonde’s comment below, I tried rolling it thicker and was careful to bake the cookies for only 6 minutes. They were so much better – soft and tender. I do think next time I’ll reduce the flour just a bit, and I’ll add some lemon zest. I also plan on going through all of the recipes everyone recommended below (which, from my initial glance at each, are quite similar to this one) and taking my favorite aspects of each.
Famous Sugar Cookies (adapted from bakingblonde)
2¾ cups (13.75 ounces) flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, very soft
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. Beat butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
3. Place dough on floured work surface and roll to ⅓-inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to cut desired shapes.
4. Place cookies on baking sheets and bake for 6-9 minutes, until cookies are beginning to brown on bottom and around edges. Don’t overbake or they will be crisp.
5. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Cool completely before frosting.
I decorated the cookies with Easy Vanilla Buttercream.