Monday, August 1, 2011

Vanilla Sugar Cookies {Recipe}

There are as many sugar cookie recipes out there as there are bakers. But this is the one that I prefer to bake with. I find that the cookies turn out flaky and rich, and they keep their shape as they bake-- the second-most important thing (to taste) when you're doing cut-outs.

What you need
3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large or extra large egg (at room temperature)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. white vinegar*
Optional: 1-2 Tbsp. water (if the dough seems too crumbly)

*Vinegar?! In a cookie?! Yes. I find that it makes the cookies a little flakier, and you don't taste it. Plus, adding a little vinegar when you're going to be coating them with sweet, sweetness, balances the flavor, in my opinion.
Please remember that if you skip the vinegar, you need to add in an extra teaspoon or so of water. It will be too dry if you do not.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes on medium speed).

In a small custard or prep bowl, use a fork to combine the egg, vinegar and vanilla until foamy. Add to the butter mixture, and mix on medium speed until well-combined. You may need to wipe down the sides of the bowl during this step.

Add flour, and mix on lowest speed until just combined. The dough should look like a ragged ball. (If you over-mix the dough here, your cookies will not be as flaky. They will be more dense.)

Use a silicone or rubber spatula to bring dough into one ball, and remove from bowl on to a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap dough loosely, then using your hands, gently form into a smooth disk. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.

Remove from refrigerator, and place onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Roll to a 1/4" thickness (about as thick as a pencil). Place rolled dough (on parchment) onto a cookie sheet and back into the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut out cookie shapes. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Place shapes on parchment paper or a Silpat mat on your cookie sheet to help them bake evenly.

Place sheet of cut-out cookies into the freezer for 15 minutes. Then place them into the preheated oven.
Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies), or until edges are slightly browned, and centers are getting golden.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. Remove to a cooling grid and let cool completely before decorating or storing.

Yield: 2-3 dozen cut-out cookies.

Click the Links Below to See:
Cookie Decorating Ideas
Chocolate Roll-Out Cookie Recipe
Royal Icing Recipe
More Recipes

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  1. I tried making this dough and it turned out crumbly. Do you presift your flour?

  2. I haven't had that problem. It is not a very soft dough, and you do have to take it out of the mixer when it's not quite together, but when I wrap it in the plastic and smash it together, it always comes together. Did you use a large egg? Perhaps the egg was smaller? My only other guess would be if your butter was not soft. I'm sorry you had trouble with it!

  3. I had the same trouble when I made it. Thought it would roll out alright but when I started to roll it out it just got more crumbly. I added a little water and that helped alot. I only made the recipe once but intend to try it again soon. This time I'll pay really close attention to what I do. The cookies did turn out yummy once I got them to roll out.

  4. I'm going to see what I can to do re-create the crumbly problem.
    In the meantime, I do tend to use large or even extra-large eggs. And I always use the "dip & sweep" method of measuring flour-- where you sweep a knife over the top of your measuring cup to be sure you get as exact of a measure as possible. Hopefully one of these fixes will help. - Beki

  5. I tried the recipe again this weekend. I weigh my flour instead of volume measuring it. A cup of flour should be about 4.5 oz. I also added a couple tablespoons of coconut rum with the vanilla. The texture of the dough was perfect.

  6. Thanks for sharing your cookies at CookieCrazie's 4th Birthday Party. :)

  7. I am going to use this recipe for cookies I am making for my sister's birthday. I'd like to make the cookies either the weekend before or a few day prior to the party and then frost the night before. How would you reccomend storing the cookies? Can I freeze and then unthaw them before frosting? Any suggestions are much appreciated.

  8. Melissa,
    You can absolutely freeze them after they've been baked before decorating. I do this all of the time. Just bring them back to room temp. before you decorate. They'll be perfect! Good luck!
    - Beki

    1. Thanks Beki for the quick reply. Mixing ingredients as I type!

  9. what do you do about sifting flour for cakes and cookies, sifting for powdered sugar for both Royal and Buttercream? sifting hurts my hand. thanks, diana clarke

    1. Diana,
      I almost never sift. I do for a few cake recipes, and it's specified in there. Generally, when I mix the flour with the other powdered ingredients (salt, baking powder, etc.), I will us a whisk to combine them. But I generally don't sift.
      I only sift my powdered sugar if it's clumpy. That pretty much only happens if the bag is open in the cabinet for a while.
      Hope this helps!
      - Beki

  10. A note on the vinegar...I cannot find cream of tartar in the country where I live so I consulted a page on food chemistry looking for a substitution in order to make up my Snickerdoodles recipe. White vinegar is what was recommended as a substitute for cream of tartar.


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