19 December 2013

Cutout Sugar Cookies - No Rolling


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 soda 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.


3 Right on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, place the scoops of dough and flatten them with the measuring cup, dipping it in flour between cookies. Press the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out cookies with metal cutter(s), dipping the cutter in flour before each cut. With cutter still in place, peel away the dough around the cutter; toss it back into the bowl. When the sheet is filled, place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking; this is to keep the cookies from spreading while they bake. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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.

16 comments:

Pegi said...

Sounds like I can add to my friends 'tea parties' with these little lovely cookies! I love the suggestion about using the measuring cup! I'm still not settled on a good cookie sheet. What do you suggest? I'm having a blast with yard sales, I think I'll add cookie cutters to my list of things to look for!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Pegi! I've added a link to my very favorite cookie sheet. Look for the link on the words "cookie sheet" in step 3 of the recipe. This is an incredibly versatile pan. Cooks cookies perfectly, also great for sheet cakes (look on the Index page for my chocolate and lemon sheet cakes), homemade granola, all sorts of things. It's heavy duty, will never need replacing; in fact, it will be an heirloom!

Dina said...

these are always fun to make!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I definitely had more fun making them my new easy way!

Angie Schneider said...

I love tea and drink it throughout the day too (drinking my morning oolong tea now)! Oma's recipes are the best! These cut-out sugar cookies look perfectly crisp and wonderful, Jean.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks so much, Angie! Hope you enjoyed your oolong!

Jenn S said...

What a great story/memory of your time with your grandmother!! And I love how cookies (or any food for that matter) can help those memories live on!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Jenn, thank you! Yes, and somehow so many of my favorite memories are tied up with food.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

HaHa Jean! You caught me just as I am about to make my father a batch of his mother's sugar cookies. He loves them with the 'toppings'--frosting and sprinkles.

My grandmother was an incredible baker and so many of our traditions come from her. The coveted sugar cookie recipe is handwritten on a piece of cardboard---well worn and used. Can't seem to copy it on something else--it's a piece of history!

I love your measuring cup technique! And I'm so in the same camp as you--thin not thick cookies! Sue

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Sue! I'm so glad that you, too, are carrying on your grandmother's baking tradition. I love that her recipe is written on a piece of cardboard--that is soooo what my other grandmother (the ultra-practical Southern grandma) would have done!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Project cookies or…projectile tossing cookies – either way I agree with you that thin is best, unless it’s butter cookies. Of greater interest to me are your midnight sessions discussing Merry Ol’ England. Now there’s a fountainhead, a classical education of sorts. Easy to see where your senses of tradition, protocols and broadly ranged awareness are anchored. 5 cleavers go to the recipe for life!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Sully! You always like the posts where I get a little more "personal."

yummychunklet said...

What perfect cookie cutouts!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, yummychunklet!

Cranberry Morning said...

Fun post about your grandmother, Jean! And very clever way to flatten the cookies. We always made them very thin too. Love them crispy!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Judy, thanks so much. Once in a while I come out of my shell and tell a little family story! Glad to get another vote for thin and crispy sugar cookies!

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