Although there are many creative uses for cookie cutters, that go beyond baking tasty treats. What you'll find below is our favourite sugar cookie recipe that should be in the repertoire of every baker. This recipe comes from the book The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and although it has some steps that you won't traditionally find in other sugar cookie recipes, the extra effort is definitely worth it!
The recipe below will make between 40-50 sugar cookies and the dough itself should store in the freezer for two months.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 150g sugar
- 230g unsalted butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 320g unbleached all-purpose flour
- Place the flour, sugar, and the salt in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, just to blend the ingredients. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, though it may take a little longer to achieve the same results. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is broken into tiny pieces, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to medium-low and mix until the mixture forms small clumps about the size of peas, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and blend on medium-low until the dough comes together to form several large clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead several times, just to bring it together. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk about 1cm thick. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until cold but still pliable.
- Place one disk of dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll 3mm thick. If the dough cracks when you start to roll, it may be too cold, Let it stand for 10 minutes, then try again-this dough rolls most easily when it is at cool room temperature. Ads you roll, the parchment will wrinkle, especially on the bottom. When this happens, peel off the top parchment paper, smooth out any wrinkles, and place it back on the dough. Flip the dough and repeat with the paper on the other side. You may need to do this several times during the rolling process.
- Remove the parchment from the top and bottom of one piece of rolled out dough and place the dough on your work surface. Line the baking sheet with new parchment paper. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into desired shapes and transfer to the parchment-lined sheet, spacing the cookies about 3cm apart. Stack the cookies on the sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper between each layer. Scraps of dough can be gently kneaded then rerolled, but the more they are rerolled, the less tender the cookies, so strategically place your cookie cutters to leave as few scraps as possible. Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough. Chill the cut shapes while the oven preheats.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C and position an oven rack in the centre. Sprinkle the cookies on each baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of sugar (you may not use it all) just before they go into the oven. Bake one pan at a time, rotating the sheet about halfway through, for 10 to 13 minutes, until light golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie shapes. Decorate the cookies as desired or leave them plain and simple.
You can store the baked cookies at room temperature for up to a week in an airtight container.