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Sugar Cookie Recipe – Let’s Get Baked

The Perfect Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe

Unfortunately it isn’t easy finding that perfect classic sugar cookie recipe. Especially when you are making cut out cookies, the sugar cookie recipe needs to be exceptional. There are several things that I look for in a sugar cookie recipe that I am going to share with you today.

This will not be an exhausted list for any Sugar Cookie Recipe, but it is a place to start and these are the main things that I look for in any cookie recipe.

Ingredients - Sugar Cookie Recipe

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Ingredients are important to me. When I make cookies, they represent me. I want them to be great. I am not going to cut cost because of the ingredients. I only use the best ingredients and the freshest ingredients.

Please keep in mind that “best ingredients” is a personal preference.

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Butter, Margarine, Crisco

Let’s start with the “fat” of the sugar cookie recipe.

These are your cookies and therefore it is your choice. But for me and my sugar cookie recipe, butter always wins over margarine.

Margarine is a blend of oils and is considered, for the most part to be an unsaturated fat. Butter, on the other hand, comes from animals and is a saturate fat.

Butter will give your cookies a rich flavorful that can’t be obtained with margarine. Cookies made with butter will tend to spread more be crisper depending on the baking time.

Margarine will produce cookies that are taller and more tender, but without the flavor.

Crisco - Substituting Shortening for Butter

There are a couple of really important things to look at before you decide to substitute shortening for butter.

Vegetable shortening is 100% fat and butter is about 80% milk fat. The additional components in butter are milk solids proteins, and water. Therefore you will want to use 20% less shortening compared to butter. Otherwise, you will end up with a very greasy product.

Vegetable shortening has a higher melting point of 117* F. Butter has a melting point of 95*F. This melting point means that if you decide to use vegetable shortening, you will have less spread and taller cookies.

The milk solids contained in butter are much more flavorful.

"Less Fat", Diet "Margarine" or Spreads

It is important to notes that when you use Margarine or Spreads labeled as “less fat” or “diet” that these items contain a fair amount of water. During the baking process, this water creates steam and that results in puffy cookies.

Using these types of margarine or spreads with cake flour  presents an additional issue. Cake flour is a low protein flour and is less absorbent of the water. This combination of ingredients will also create very puffy sugar cookies.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder

If you are looking for an easy answer, baking soda is typically used when you are looking for that awesome chewy cookies.

On the other hand, baking powder is generally used when you want to achieve light and airy cookies.

The reason is because  baking powder is a combination of ingredients, such as baking soda, cream of tartar and cornstarch. Using baking powder  instead of baking soda will affect the taste of your cookies because of the added ingredients.

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Flour Types -Which Flour to Use

Unless the sugar cookie recipe says otherwise, I reach for either the all purpose flour or bread flour. The bread flour is great when you are looking for a more chewy cookie.

I learned the trick about bread flour from the King Arthur Flour Company. That is an amazing company. I would encourage you to check them out.

Now some professional bakers will tell you to skip the all purpose flour and the bread flour and use pastry flour instead. Their argument is that the pastry flour if more finely milled and has a protein content of 8 to 9 percent. Some professionals will argue that this is the right amount of protein giving the cookies that flakiness and tenderness while maintaining its structure.

I have no opinion on using pastry flour for my cookies. I have never used it. I will most likely stick to using my all purpose and bread flours.

Sugar Cookie Recipe - the Eggs

Eggs and butter are pretty much the star of the show when it comes to a sugar cookie recipe. Eggs promote the puffiness while holding all the ingredients together during the baking process.

I will usually allow my eggs to come to room-temperature. Room-temperature will improve both the smoothness and the texture of the sugar cookie recipe.

The reason this happens is because room-temperature eggs create more air bubbles and this increases the volume of the sugar cookie batter. The cookies rise better and are lighter. The cookies also have a more tender texture compare to eggs that are not allowed to come to room temperature.

Shaped Designs - Sugar Cookie Recipe

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No Spread - Why is that Important?

If you hang out in the world of cookie baking like I do, you are most likely going to hear the word “Spread” and “No Spread”.

Very simply put this term refers to the amount of spread once the cookie dough is put in the oven. This is important to talk about because when you are working with shaped cookies the amount of spread can distort the shape and make it unrecognizable when it comes out of the oven.

After, a snowman cookie needs to look like a snowman. A heart needs to look like a heart. The shaped cookies need to go into the oven and come out of the oven looking like the same shape.

Sugar Cookie Recipe - Coming out Flat

Sugar Cookies that come out flat can sometimes result from improper measuring of the flour and or the sugar. Too little flour or too much sugar can result in flat cookies.  This is why I use a kitchen scale for my dry ingredients like flour, sugar and brown sugar. The kitchen scale insures accuracy when I am measuring my dry ingredients.

Okay, you are using a kitchen scale. Another reason your cookies might be coming out flat is because the oven temperature is too hot. This problem can be solved very easily by putting a thermometer in the oven. I have one of those small thermometers that hang on a baking rack in my oven.

Before You Bake - Chilling the Dough

Should you chill sugar cookie dough before baking? I always do.
 
The reason I like chilling my cookie dough is because by popping the dough in the refrigerator, you are allowing that fats in the dough to cool. This allows the cookies to expand more slowly when they are put in the oven.
 
Allowing your sugar cookie recipe dough to chill in the refrigerator allows the flour to hydrate and gives the other ingredients time to blend. This results in a richer, more well-rounded flavor for your sugar cookies.
 
Skipping this step can result in a cookie that is flat disk rather than a nice chewy sugar cookie.

How Long Should the Sugar Cookie Dough Chill?

Do I have a set amount of time that I chill my dough for? No, I do not. I mix my dough the day before I plan to bake. I usually chill my cookie dough over night. But that is me and that is my routine.

Is there a recommendation, yes there is?

As a general rule, you will want to chill your sugar cookie recipe dough for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. Going longer than 24 hours will not produce a noticeable difference. I do not get upset if my sugar cookie recipe dough chills for more than 24 hours. It is one of those things that happens and I get busy.

Once I take the cookie dough out of the refrigerator, I will always let the chilled dough sit on the counter for about 5 to 10 minutes. This warms it up to room temperature and makes the dough more pliable. It is easier to handle and roll out on the counter.

If it gets too soft, I just briefly return the dough to the refrigerator.

Benefits of Chilled Dough

What happens if you don’t chill cookie dough?

It can depend on the type of cookie dough, but for the most part, chilling the dough makes it keep its form, and if the dough contains butter, it prevents the butter from melting.

If you don’t chill the dough, it will be much softer and the cookie will not keep its shape as well, both before and during baking.

Preparing the Cookie Sheet

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Parchment Paper

Does parchment paper keep cookies from spreading?

Yes, I use parchment paper when I am baking my sugar cookies. The parchment paper gives the cookie something to cling to and can slow the spreading of the cookie.

A greased cookie sheet encourages the spreading of the cookies and can cause them to lose their shape during the baking process.

Additionally, using parchment paper prevents the cookies from sticking and they are much easier to remove with less breakage.

It should be noted that neither my dogs or my grandchildren complain about broken cookies.

Are My Sugar Cookies Cooked?

All sugar cookie recipes are going to contain information for oven temperature and baking time. This is a given. But these are recommendations for the best possible outcome for the recipe. There are going to be times when you need to tweak these settings.

For example, some ovens run hot and the temperature needs to be turned down. I use an internal thermometer to measure the temperature and make sure my oven settings are accurate.

There are 2 other factors that are going to affect baking times and those are attitude and humidity. But that topic is outside the scope of this tutorial. If you think you have a problem with attitude or humidity, I would encourage you to do independent research to solve any specific issues.
 
In Short
 

Knowing what to look for and knowing when sugar cookies are ready to come out of the oven takes time. Like all skill sets, it is something that you need to learn. Be patient with yourself. You are going to burn cookies from time to time.

And trust me, the dog won’t care if the cookie is a little burnt. My dogs love me no matter what. My dogs don’t care if the cookie is burnt, broken, or dropped on the floor. They appreciate every last bite.

It is going to happen. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Mistakes are fantastic teachers. Not only can mistakes teach you what not to do, but mistakes turned inside out can result in fortunate new techniques that save time.

Don’t ever be afraid of failure. Failure turned inside out results in success.

When to Take Sugar Cookies out of the Oven?

Sugar cookies coming out of the oven should be a golden brown color and firm to touch. The center of the cookies should still be slightly soft, but not doughy. If you have any doubts about the center of the cookies, then use a toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean with only a few crumbs.

What does an under baked sugar cookie look like?

When your cookies come out with a pale appearance and do not have that golden, slightly browned appearance, it means that they are uncooked.

Also the uncooked cookie may have a crisp edge, but under cooked doughy center that is rather sticky.

But, don’t get discouraged. Simply return the cookies to the oven as soon as you notice that they are under baked.

Putting Sugar Cookies Back in the Oven?

If you find that your cookies have cooled a bit and they are still doughy in the center, you can return them to a hot oven.

While this will fix the doughy center, it will also make the cookies more dense and chewy. You will end up with a cookie that is no longer crispy. This may be what you are looking for.

But when I find this happening, and it does, I will adjust the baking time of the next batch. I usually make 2 batches at a time anyway. So the first cookie sheet going into the oven is always my test batch.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

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Ingredients

2 cup unsalted butter – room temperature (4 sticks)

2 cups granulated sugar OR 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar – See Note Below.

2 large eggs

2 teas vanilla extract

1/2 teas salt

6 cups all purpose flour

Note: The basic difference between white and brown sugar is the molasses. Replacing white sugar with brown sugar gives the sugar cookie added flavor and moisture. Yes, it is a slightly darker cookie, but the molasses makes these cookies more flavorful. And the increased moisture from the molasses means that the cookies with be softer.

Preheat the Oven to 350* F

Start by creaming together the sugar and butter. It should be well blended together. It should appear light and fluffy and be well incorporated.

Note: I will usually allow my butter to soften to room temperature. I know that some people think you can microwave the butter to soften it, but I have better results just leaving it out on the kitchen counter to soften.

Scrap down the side of the bowl.

Add vanilla extract and the eggs. Mix on medium speed until everything is mixed together. If you wish, you can add your eggs one at a time.

Scrap down the side of the bowl and and beater.

Add the flour and salt mixture, but do this by adding only 1 or cups at a time. Mix on slow in between cups to incorporate.

Note: Your cookie dough should start pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough begins to look crumbly do not add more flour. Depending on the room temperature and the humidity, you might not need all 6 cups of flour.

Now it is time to chill your dough. I will usually chill my dough over night. I make my cookie dough one day and bake the next. But that is my schedule.

Once the dough has chilled, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

Bake your sugar cookies for 10-15 minutes, until cookies have just started to turn golden brown around the edges. For the best results, bake similar sized cookies together on the same cookie sheet.

If you put 2 cookie sheets int he over at once, you might want to swap them halfway through , so that they cook evenly.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest for about 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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Additional Reading

Here are some other post that you might like to check out. Please note that if the links are not active, that the post are still being worked on.

The links will go active once the post are finished.

Let’s Get Baked – Sublimation Cookies

Cannon PIXMA TR8620a Edible Printer

Cricut Design Space – Adding Your Machine

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