The weather in Hawaii is beautiful. It never gets above 90 degrees. And while 85 may be beautiful at the beach, 85 in the kitchen is not so awesome. I’ve always had trouble with any recipe that involves rolling out dough, cutting and transporting it to a pan. Disaster almost always ensues. Butter melts quickly at 85 degrees. Everything falls apart. But today I’m feeling triumphant. I finally found a sugar cookie recipe that works.
This recipe comes from Canadian cake goddess, Sweetapolita. It’s pretty much the perfect sugar cookie. They’re soft but sturdy and full of flavor. They taste great all by themselves, no frosting or glaze needed, but because they hold their shape so well when baked, they’re prime for decorating.
The key is to keep everything well chilled. This dough goes in and out of the refrigerator or freezer three times. Make the dough. Chill it. Roll the dough. Chill it. Cut the dough. Chill it in the freezer. Having your cookie dough nice and cold when it goes into the oven prevents spreading so that fancy lion you cut still looks like a lion instead of some pathetic blob when you take it out of the oven. It takes a bit of time, but the results are so worth it. They work even in a warm kitchen. I’m so relieved to finally have a reliable sugar cookie recipe that works in Hawaii.
Maybe I should finally learn how to decorate sugar cookies now that I have a no-fail recipe. It’s about to get awesome.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
- Sift flour and salt together into a small mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar on medium high for about five minutes. Your butter mixture will become very pale and fluffy.
- Add in the egg and beat until combined.
- Turn your mixer as low as it will go and slowly add the flour, mixing until thoroughly combined. Mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts and crank your mixer up to medium for about 10 seconds to make sure everything is well blended.
- Carefully dump your dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and press it together into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk, cover completely and put the dough into the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
- Clear a space in your kitchen to roll out your dough. I have a baking mat that I then cover with parchment. Unwrap your chilled dough and place it on the parchment, then put another sheet of parchment on top. Scour your house for two objects that are the same thickness, preferably between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. I used two cutting boards. Places them on either side of the dough about as far apart as the span of your rolling pin. These will be your guides to make sure your dough is rolled to an even thickness. With the parchment paper over the top, roll your cookie dough until it's even with your guides. Slide something stiff under your rolled out dough, and transport it back to the refrigerator to chill for another 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 325.
- Remove your rolled dough from the fridge, cut the shapes you want, place the cut dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, and then put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Bake your cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. They'll still be quite pale, but you want them to set enough that they won't crumble when you try to frost them.
- Let the cookies cool on the pan for another 10 minutes, then remove them to wire racks to cool completely before decorating. Or not. They're totally awesome eaten plain.
- This may seem like a crazy amount of steps. Do not skip them, especially if your kitchen is warm. Cold dough is key.