Wow, this is the only weekend I have to bake for Easter. Next weekend we’re away for Easter, well more we’re away for Mr Fussy’s birthday. This year it’s Good Friday. Nothing nicer than being able to have a Friday off work, especially for Mr Fussy. His busiest day of the week is a Friday.
Last night I arrived home from my Nelson trip and plonked myself down, inhaled dinner and then set about making sugar cookies. Somehow I knew the decorating of them would be time consuming. So to get ahead of the game I made the cookies last night. It was a long night. I was tired. And the lighting in the kitchen at 9pm is less than ideal for photos. So go easy on me
I’d been reading a number of recipes for sugar cookies. I can’t believe how many varieties there are. Any recipe that uses an egg white, or an egg yolk is put the the bottom of my list of “will try one day” pile. I mean really?! Splitting an egg in a recipe is nuts. Well I guess my dedication to baking, flavour and texture has limits.
I’ve been following Bake at 350 on Twitter for some time. Bridget has a amazing blog full of fantastic cookies decorated with the type of skill that I know not to waste my time striving for.
What I liked about this recipe is that you didn’t have to put the dough into the fridge for hours before using it. And given my late arrival home time was something I was short of.
Over the past month of so I’ve been collecting a number of different shape and sized Easter cookie cutters. They’ve been on the bench the past few weeks so I’m really looking forward to seeing a big more bench space next week.
I’ll share Bridget’s recipe first and then follow up with my own tests and adaptions to the way I prepared the dough for baking.
When making cookies you want to get a cookie that’s not crunchy, that doesn’t spread during baking and tastes great. There’s tips for solving the spreading but the texture and taste will always be something that’s personal to each person.
I need to button it and just get to the recipe. Sorry, I’m tired, and when I’m tired I start to ramble and make less sense than usual
- 3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
225 gm butter, cold & cut into chunks
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- In a bowl mix the flour and baking powder together and leave aside.
- In the bowl of a mixer cream the butter and sugar.
- Add the egg and both extracts and mix until combined.
- Scrape the mixer bowl down and add 1/4 of the four mixture.
- With the mixer on low slowly add in the remaining flour until almost all combine.
- The dough will appear a bit crumbly, but will be in clumps.
- On a floured surface tip the dough onto the bench and gently bring it all together using your hands to form a ball.
- Roll the dough out to about 4mm and use your desired cookie cutters to make the shapes.
- Place the cookies onto a baking tray covered with baking paper or a Silpat. Put the tray into the fridge and leave it there while your oven heats up.
- Heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
- When the cookies have been in the fridge for 10 or so minutes, place them in the oven and bake for 8 –10 minutes, turning the tray half way through for even baking.
- You don’t want the cookies browning so you’ll need to keep a close watch on cookies that have small parts, like the ears of the bunnies.
- Leave the cookies on the baking tray for 5 or so minutes before transferring to a cooling tray.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container, or you can freeze them until you’re read to decorate.
- Mr Fussy had taken the butter out of the fridge for me in the morning (at my request), so my butter was soft. It probably creamed a little more than was needed. Great to have a recipe that doesn’t require the butter to be room temperature though.
- Apparently the unbleached flour makes a difference to the spreadability of the dough. I used normal standard flour which worked fine with a few tweaks. I’ll keep an eye out for unbleached flour though for next time.
- The first cookies I cut were difficult to handle. As I put the slice under a cookie to manoeuvre it to the tray the dough would change shape which was mildly annoying and they were difficult to coax off the slice to the tray.
- My recommendation is to cut the cookie shapes out and then put the tray into the oven for the dough to firm up. Then you can transfer the cookies to the baking tray for baking. This worked well and the shapes held and were easy to slide off and onto the baking tray.
- I put the dough between sheets of waxed paper. This way I’m not adding any extra flour to the dough which can change it’s texture. This also has added benefit when you re-roll the scraps. It’s just as pliable as the first batch of cut out cookies.
- I used my new roller that has the guides on the sides. My cookies were evenly rolled.
- The first of my cookies did spread a little. There’s photos below showing the difference between the first batch and those I baked after. The others had a little more time in the fridge and I left the shapes pressed out and only removed the shapes from the dough when I was ready to put the cookies in the oven.
- Next time I might replace 1 teaspoon of sugar for brown sugar. I’ve ready somewhere else that this seems to make the difference in a softer chewier cookie. I found these cookies were a little on the crunch side but I fully expect that once the Royal Icing is on they will soften a little.
I wished I had pulled the dough together on the bench. It was a little sticky and kept pulling the waxed paper up each time I went to roll the dough to knead it.
My first batch of baked cookies spread a little, nothing hideous but enough that the edges of the cookie wasn’t as crisp as the others, and the spreading also meant they didn’t retain their height. Still nothing to complain about, but it’s enough to point out the difference and recommend that you cut the shapes, put the dough into the fridge and then extract the cookies from the dough when you’re ready to bake.
The last photo shows a difference in the colour which is neither here nor there for me. But the darker coloured cookie is one that had been in the fridge longer and left in place until I was ready to bake.
All up these cookies probably spent between 5-15 minutes chilling out in the fridge. Bridget recommends putting them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. I simply don’t have the space. Thankfully my baking trays do fit inside my fridge, just.
And now these are ready for decorating, which I did today, and explains the extra tiredness I feel.
I’ll post the photos of the cookies all decorated tomorrow, along with the Royal Icing recipe I used, which like the cut out cookie recipe varies from one accomplished cookie decorator to the next. But I’ll be sharing the one I made, naturally.