Friday, April 15, 2011

Naked Sugar Cookies

I have been making sugar cookies for as long as I can remember.  Since I was a little girl, sugar cookies have been a staple at Christmas time.  My sisters, mom and I would sit around the kitchen table and kneed, decorate and eat.  By the time we were finished, the entire kitchen would smell delicious, about half of the cookies made it into cookie tins (the other half was eaten) and the entire room would be covered in flour and sprinkles.  The sugar cookies that my family makes were not the beautiful icing decorated pieces of art you see on blogs.  Ours were hand made by little girls; cookies hand shaped into funny designs, totally covered in sugary jimmies and sprinkles.  I don't know if my mom never got into icing decorating because she didn't like it or because maybe it would be even more to worry about cleaning up.  These days we still make sugar cookies with sprinkles, we are just a bit more efficient about it.

When I saw my first cookie decorating blog, I was amazed!  There are truly some amazing artist/bakers out there.  I have been OBSESSED with Bridget at Bake at 350 for a while now. haha.  I love every design she comes up with.  The cool thing about her is that she makes it seem so accessible.  I have been trying to convince myself to give it a try for a while, but have been too chicken.  Bridget also started the University of Cookie where she and other bloggers upload how-to videos.  It is really awesome.  I have spent the past few days pouring over the past video posts to get ready to try it myself.  I think I finally worked up the courage to try!

I made the sugar cookies yesterday so that step would be finished and I plan on decorating them in the next few days.  I considered using one of the sugar cookie recipes I found online, but decided to just stick to my tried and true recipe of my childhood.  I work myself up when I make something new.  I don't know why, but I get so stressed that what I am making won't be good.  Trying to ice cookies is enough of a leap for me, so I figured I would stick with my old recipe. :-)  Maybe this blog will help me let go of my fear of new things! ... Maybe not ;-)

I always double this recipe, but for whatever reason I decided not to this time.  I thought maybe I should start small.  When I saw the tiny amount of cookies it would make (20 3.5 inch cookies), I quickly made another batch!  My family is Italian after all.  20 cookies would be gone in one sitting.

The first step is to cream the sugar, shortening, and vanilla together.

Then add in the egg and beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in milk.

Sift dry ingredients together (don't skip this!) and blend into creamed mixture.  Don't over beat!

I decided to try a technique I saw online on the University of Cookie.  A lot of bloggers say that adding too much flour to your dough when you are cutting the cookies will make the cookies tough.  I do agree that too much flour will affect your end product, however I the technique they suggest didn't work for me.  You lay out a layer of wax paper below and over top a ball of dough.  Then roll of the dough and refrigerate.

After the dough gets chilled, you can just cut the shapes out and transfer to a cookie sheet.  At this point my dough was so greasy and fragile that the cookie were falling apart!  It could be something I was doing wrong, I am not sure.

I am not a very patient person so I immediately gave up and when back to my old ways!  I floured everything and got to work!

Like my new cookie cutters?? Super cheap at Walmart. ;-)

They came out so soft and delicious. Only one bunny was harmed in the process.

Don't worry.  He made it safely to my tummy. ;-)

With a tiny bit of left over dough I free-hand cut out a cross and a square to be a little bit different.

I can't wait to decorate these cookies!  I am going to use Bridget's Royal Icing recipe and an assortment of colors.  Wish me luck!

Verdict: Of course I will make these again! We usually just save sugar cookies for Christmas, but I think I will have to expand my cookie cutter collection so we can have them all year round.

Coming Up: Icing the cookies!! Probably by Tuesday... We will see how my schedule goes.  I am also planning on making some Easter chick cake pops and and Italian Easter Noodle Pie soon.  Probably lots of other things too for the upcoming holiday.  Can't Wait!

Until next time, send positive royal icing thoughts my way,
Jenna xoxo

P.S. Beautiful Spring Flowers on my kitchen table. :-)

P.P.S. Here is the recipe!

Sugar Cookies
From: Jenna's Mom
Cooking Time: 350 for 6-8 min
Yields: about 20 3.5 inch cookies

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
4 tsp milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flower

1. Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla.
2. Add in egg; beat until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in milk.
4. Sift dry ingredients together, blend into creamed mixture.
5. Divide dough in half.
6. Chill at least one hour.
7. Bake on greased cookie sheet.
8. Enjoy!

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