I made my all time favorite sugar cookies yesterday.
Real butter . . . white sugar . . . real vanilla . . . and a hint of lemon, courtesy of finely grated lemon rind.
I came upon this recipe in a rather strange way. I was at a farmers market one Saturday and a lady selling prepackaged bean soup and cookie mixes offered me a sugar cookie sample. I took it with no great expectations, after all, even if she had put the mixes together herself, it was still a mix. . . right? Seriously? Best. sugar. cookie. ever! A bit of crunch on the outside, soft and melty on the inside and a hint of lemon.
I walked away with a bag of cookie mix.
Every so often I would indulge myself with a bag. But people??? It did not come cheap! And I like to bake stuff from scratch so it just killed me to pay good money for a mix when I was sure I could figure it out myself.
Except, I wasn’t all that sure that I could.
One afternoon I gave myself a firm talking to. “Was I, or was I not, my father’s daughter?” He would be horrified to know I was paying good money for a mix when all it would take was a little research and a lot of trial and error to recreate this cookie. “What was I waiting for??” Thankfully, I still had the ingredient and instruction list from the mix to start with.
Flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda were in the mix.( Can you see why it made me crazy to pay $7 to make 3 dozen cookies?) I hadn’t even added my own butter yet! I had to add soft butter, an egg, vanilla and the finely grated rind from a lemon. That’s it. But what were the proportions???
I started googling sugar cookie recipes with that ingredient list. It wasn’t easy. Almost all the recipes had salt in them. I didn’t want salt!
I finally found one that was close. I tried it out. Not bad, but . . . not the best sugar cookie ever. I fiddled. I read through all the comments on the recipe. I fiddled some more and . . . at last . . . The best. sugar. cookie. ever! I’ll show you . . .
Lemon Sugar Cookies.
1 1/2 cup white sugar 1 cup soft butter fine zest from 1 lemon 1 egg 1 1/2 tsp real vanilla 2 3/4 cup of flour (I start with 2 1/2 and add extra if needed to make the dough rollable) 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Cream butter and sugar very well. This is extremely important. The butter and sugar must be very light before you move on to the next step. Beat it until you think you’re done and then beat it a little more.
Add lemon zest. Beat well.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Blend in dry ingredients Do not over beat as your cookies will become tough Mix just until all the ingredients are blended into a softish dough. (It still works if the dough is a bit stiff as well)
Put some (extra) sugar on a plate.
Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and coat with sugar.
Place on ungreased cookies sheets. (I line them with parchment paper)
Bake for 8 minutes exactly. Don’t worry about whether they have browned or not. They wont. If you bake them for too long they will become hard.
Take out of oven and leave on tray for 2 minutes.
Remove from tray and cool on wire racks.
Store in cookie tin.
They dry out very quickly, so I always put the majority of them in a freezer bag and hide store them in the freezer.
Makes approx. 75 small cookies.
Are these a little fiddly?
No doubt about it. I save them for special occasions. (Sometimes I make up special occasions . . .)
After all, these are the best. sugar. cookies. ever. Better even, than the ones I started out trying to recreate. As we speak? Two luscious cookies are thawing out on the desk in front of me. Oh my. Dad would be proud.