The Fresh Loaf

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Holiday Sugar Cookies (A Recipe that Actually Works)

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Anonymous baker (not verified)

Holiday Sugar Cookies (A Recipe that Actually Works)

I tried 4 different recipes for rolled sugar cookies (the kind you roll out and cut with cookie cutters) before finding one that works really well. Enjoy:


~60 cookies

  • 340 g butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 400 g sugar, white, granulated
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 5 ml vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • 625 g all-purpose flour
  • 9 g baking powder (2 teaspoons) (not baking soda)
  • 6 g salt (1 teaspoon)
~30 cookies
  • 170 g butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 200 g  sugar, white, granulated
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 3 ml vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 310 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g baking powder (1 teaspoon) (not baking soda)
  • 3 g salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least two hours (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
  1. I changed the bake time from 6-8 minutes to 8-10 minutes. They're too soft at 8 minutes for my liking. I like them crunchy. If you like soft holiday cookies, use the original 6 to 8 minute baking time. They're done (crunchy) when the edges start to brown. (I live at 6000 ft. If you bake at sea level, you might need 10-12 minutes to achieve a crunchy cookie. Let the lightly-browned edges be your guide. That's when you'll get a crunchy cookie.)
  2. I changed the dough resting time from 1 hour to 2 hours. I haven't bothered with an overnight rest, but that would probably work even better. One hour is insufficent for my refrigerator, which I keep at 40 F (1 degree below sleepytime for yeasts).
  3. Once you mix the dough, spread it out into a rectangle on a Silpat (or plastic wrap) to about 2/3" thick before refrigerating. It's much easier to roll out at 2/3" thick than from a blob of dough in a bowl. It's similar to sweet pastry/pie dough in this regard. 
  4. The very high butter content means you have work very quickly in a cold kitchen–rather hard to do when you're oven is preheating to 400 F, huh?
  5. If you wish to decorate them with coloured sugar(s), brush cookies with water and then generously sprinkle with (coloured) granulated sugar(s) before baking.
  6. Use a Silpat (silicone mat)–if you have one–when rolling and cutting the cookie dough. Makes rolling, cutting, and transferring to parchment easier. I suppose you could just bake on the Silpat. I'll try that next time (or once I buy several smaller Silpats).
  7. I use a pizza cutter to lift and transfer the cookies from Silpat to parchment. Much easier than using your fingers, which are too warm by about 65 degrees F. A pastry/dough scraper might work well too. You can also use polyethylene gloves (wasteful, I know) to limit the heat transfer from your fingers to the pastry. Neat trick I learned from a pastry chef when he taught me puff and croissant. 
  8. If you're making 60 cookies, remove only 1/4 of the dough from the refrigerator at a time. If making 30 cookies, remove 1/2 of the dough at a time. Why? See note 4. 
  9. If the dough starts to fall apart (which it will do in less than 5 minutes), put it back in the refrigerator/freezer until it firms up. Re-roll as necessary. Re-rolling doesn't affect the quality of the cookie's rise, so don't worry if you have to re-chill and re-roll the dough.
  10. Bake them on parchment paper instead of directly on an ungreased cookie sheet so you can remove them from the cookie sheet immediately out of the oven. They tend to crack when cooled directly on the cookie sheet.
  11. Resist the temptation to bake more than one pan at a time. You can do so, but the bottom pan of cookies will bake unevenly.
Edited source.