Friday, March 11, 2016

Sugar Cookies - Soft, Delicious, Easy to Make

This is long-time family favorite cut-out cookie. Sprinkled just with sugar, they are exceptionally good and easy to make. They are so good, when my sister changed to a new cut out cookie last Christmas, the family immediately noticed and asked what had gone wrong.

Julian's Fresh Soft Sugar Cookies
My mother made these cookies for me almost weekly as a child, and they were my favorite above all other cookies. The flavor is mild, the cookie is always soft thanks to sour cream in the dough, and with just a sugar sprinkle they are not overly sweet.

Ingredients  (4-6 dozen depending on size)
6 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sanding or crystal sugars

In large bowl, whisk or sift together the 6 cups of flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside. In the large bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the sour cream and butter together at low speed. With the mixer running add sugar, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during mixing. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you have one. With the mixer on low, spoon in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Dough will be sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and need until just fully combined. Shape the dough into a large round log. Divide dough into four discs and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, two hours or up to three days in advance. Dough can be frozen at this stage and saved for future baking (see below).

Separating the dough into four discs.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with no convection selected. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon pads. If you have two more, prepare those as well as the cookie sheets should be cool for subsequent batches and you can rotate usage. Use baking strips or silicon rolling pin spacing bands to ensure the cookies are of a consistent depth. If you don't have them, locate any strips that will elevate the the rolling pin to approximately 1/4 inch, which is the preferred thickness for these cookies. Generously flour and sugar your work surface to prevent dough from sticking. Rub flour on the rolling pin.

No baking strips? Use something else of 1/4" depth.
Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator and place it on the floured/sugared surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Starting at the center, roll the dough out to one edge then down to the other; repeating until dough is an even 1/4" thick all over, sprinkling with additional flour if needed, to avoid sticking. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out shapes beginning at the outer edge and working toward the center for maximum dough usage. Transfer dough shapes to baking sheets. If you plan to frost them, they are ready for baking.  If you want sugar topped cookies, sprinkle them now with crystal or sanding sugar, preferably.

Press left over dough together and continue rolling and cutting shape until the sheets are full. Remove the next disc from the refrigerator and repeat the process. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 8-10 minutes. Bake them just until they just spring back to the touch but haven't started browning. Transfer hot cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Amazon sells Baking Perfection strips.
Freezing The Dough
These cookies freeze great. It's best to freeze the dough where noted in the recipe above. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in zippered freezer storage bags for up to four months. When ready to use, remove a disc of dough from the freezer to the refrigerator for 24 hours to thaw. Then remove to your counter and continue with rolling as you normally would, using a flour and sugar mixture on the surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking.

My Sister's Sugar Cookies

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