My mother was terrific baker and as children, we were fortunate to come home from school with a plate of homemade cookies always on hand with a glass of milk. The first thing I ever recall really baking on my own were walnut nut balls that I sent to my brother at college. They were essentially all butter, some sugar and walnuts. I’m sure there were other ingredients but I have long since lost the recipe. I do recall however, that all of his roommates looked forward to his packages from home.
I find that I don’t bake cookies as often as I used to, but the other day I had a yen for a really nice sugar cookie. Not the bendy, squishy kind and not the totally crispy kind. Well my recipe fits the bill and no matter how inexperienced you are or how small your kitchen, these cookies can be whipped up in less than an hour. You bring the milk – I’ve got the cookies!
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Yields: 2 dozen cookies
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup of granulated sugar (I always store my sugar in a glass jar with a few whole vanilla beans tucked in it)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
zest of one large lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2.5 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
1 egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon of cream or milk, lightly beaten
Sanding sugar (Large grain sugar)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- While you can make this by hand, they will have a better texture if you use a standing mixer. Cream the butter and sugar and then add the vanilla, egg, and lemon zest. Mix well.
- Sift the dry ingredients together and slowly add them to the butter mixture, until well blended.
- On a cookie sheet covered with parchment or a Silpat, scoop out 1 large Tablespoon of dough. A cookie scoop is really handy to own and works great at getting your cookies even in size.
- Press the dough flat with your fingers or the heel of your hand. You can also use a glass but dip it in sugar so it won’t stick.
- Brush the tops with the egg/cream mixture and generously sprinkle the sanding sugar on top. You could use colored sugar or granulated sugar if you don’t want to buy sanding sugar. Bake for 14-15 minutes – just until golden.
- Leave on the pan for 2 minutes so everything sets up before removing to a cooling rack.