Whenever someone offers me sugar cookies, I'm always hoping they'll be my grandmother's thin, crisp and tender cookies. But they never are. It seems everyone makes the thick kind. No thanks. I know the thick ones are easier to make, not so tricky to handle, but they are not the sugar cookies of my childhood, the ones that go so perfectly with a nice cup of tea.
My maternal grandmother, called "Ma" by all the family, was English and drank tea constantly throughout the day and even the night. Every night. Whenever she came to town, she stayed for about a month. If it was summertime (no school), I was allowed to get up with her in the middle of the night. We would sit in the kitchen drinking tea and talking about England.
Yes, I was allowed to drink black tea when I was a small child! (It's not the worst thing my parents ever did!) I've been drinking tea since I was four (actually probably two-ish) and, like Ma, I drink it constantly throughout the day and occasionally even in the middle of night. I seem to have inherited a gene from her that allows me to have a nice, strong cup of tea and go right to sleep. (Coffee is another matter entirely.)
She was a wonderful baker (My cousin Denise and I still talk about it!), as was my mother; so when Ma was in town, the two ovens in the old Wedgewood gas stove never got a chance to cool off. Like the day when they were baking these cookies ... all ... day ... long. I was six and the next sibling in line was 12, and we both kept "testing" cookies from each batch. I didn't eat nearly so many as my brother did, but he always could handle sugar better than I. I ended up being sick. And when I say "being sick," I mean that in the English sense (I ended up tossing my cookies!).
Of course, my grandmother rolled her cookies out very thinly and transferred them to the baking sheets without a problem. And I don't have a problem with the thicker cookies that are rolled out 1/4-inch thick. But I don't like those. I like the thin ones my grandmother made. So I came up with this easy no-roll method.
Without further ado, here are the cookies I tossed!
Unrolled Cutout Sugar Cookies
(Makes 42 cookies with my cutters)
1 1/2 packed cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature but still cold
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Of course, these days I'm using my Cuisinart stand mixer, something my grandmother never had. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture a little at a time, forming a soft but not sticky dough. Put dough into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the next day.
2 Instead of rolling out the dough and having to concern yourself with chilling the dough at several stages, just get out the bowl of dough, a flat-bottomed stainless steel 1/2-cup measuring cup that measures 2.5 inches* across the bottom and a #60 (1/2 ounce / 1 tablespoon) scoop and make it easy on yourself!
* Your measuring cup set might have different diameters than mine; use whichever cup is 2.5 inches or a little more.
4 Place cookie sheet with cookies on parchment paper in preheated oven and bake for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly colored on top and just starting to brown slightly around the edges. Let cookies cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to wire rack to cool completely.
5 Decorate them or not. I prefer not. Sure, they're cuter decorated, but I don't like the added sweetness. Store completely cooled cookies in airtight container for up to two weeks.