Thoughts on Sugar Cookies
September 10, 2010 Leave a comment
I absolutely LOVE sugar cookies. Buttery and crumbly at the same time, sugar cookies are such a treat. But I’ve never been good at making them. My dough always felt like a wet sticky goo that just stuck to my pastry mat when I tried to use my cookie cutters. Even after I tried the chilling method, the dough would quickly become goopy again. Not fun!
Enter… Martha Stewart. My boyfriend recently got me Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It is a gem of a cookbook. The reviews on Amazon raved about how helpful the book is and after flipping through its 400+ pages, they are definitely right! I naturally had to try her sugar cookies recipe. If anyone could get an average home baker to make incredible sugar cookies, it would be Martha.
Martha’s Sugar Cookies from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
- 4 sticks (1 pound) of unsalted butter, at room temperature.
- 3 cups of sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 5 cups of all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Royal icing (I actually used my preferred recipe for royal icing from Allrecipes.com.)
(Sorry about the yellow pictures!) Anyways, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, and then add the eggs, salt, and vanilla extract. Here, Martha says to add the flour in batches until everything is incorporated together. By the way, this is a very handy tip because it certainly avoided that mushroom cloud of flour that can burst from the mixer unexpectedly… leading to a frustrating clean-up experience. Thanks Martha! 🙂
Divide up the dough into halves and wrap them up in plastic. Put in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. I have always HATED this step. I hate waiting. But I’ve come to realize that for professional-looking, not thinned out cookies, this is a required step. In this case, I put the cookies in for about two days.
When you’re ready to bake, get the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Before unwrapping the cookies, dust your work surface (preferably a non-stick mat) and your rolling pin with flour. Settle the dough on top of the floured mat and sprinkle some more flour on the top. Roll out. I guarantee the combination of the flour and the chilled dough will make your rolling experience easy.
Get your baking sheets nice and greased, but before putting your cookies on them, dust the sheet itself with flour too. This will prevent the cookies from spreading and becoming thin, shapeless globs. I did not do this with my first couple of batches (notice how thin some of the cookies are) and this tip is not in Martha’s book. But I found that doing this helped a lot!
According to Martha’s book, you bake for about 15 minutes. I found that 17 minutes was perfect for my oven. After the cookies have cooled, you’re ready to frost!
Sugar cookie troubleshooting:
- Dough feels too wet. It’s not cold enough. Martha’s recipe is accurate for a delicious baked cookie. If you add more flour, you risk dryness. Put back in freezer (if you don’t want to wait for the refrigerator), dust the mat again when it’s hard but workable, and the rolling pin with flour and roll.
- Cookie shape mushes when trying to release from the mat. This could be because the dough isn’t cold enough (it got less cold as your worked it) as a result of not working quickly enough. The faster the cookie shape gets transferred onto the sheet, the better. I do not recommend stamping out all the shapes on a piece of dough at once and then trying to release them all. Go one by one. Much more reliable.