My mom comes from a large Ukrainian family in Alberta, Canada. They were true pioneers who were given free land by the government (free meaning it was stumpy, rocky, crappy land that no one else wanted.) The pioneers had the last laugh though, because little did the government know then that the land they gave away was a gold mine in the form of OIL!
My mom’s mom (my grandma) had 12 (or was it 13?) brothers and sisters, and one of them was Sophie. I met her once when I was a kid while we were visiting the farm. She was soft and a little round and spoke only Ukrainian, from what I remember. Her husband Steve was a tall sort of skinny guy who spent a lot of time under the cars that he tinkered around on. He’d get grease and oil in his hair, so he’d use kerosene to de-grease it. Ah, the olden days! Anyway, the point of this story is that this may be Auntie Sophie’s recipe for sugar cookies, but it was Uncle Steve who would bake them. I love the image of Steve mixing the dough, cutting out the shapes and popping them in the oven. I wonder if he put sprinkles on his too?
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3 c. flour
-Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy.
*I used to do this the old fashioned way, but now I have my very own Kitchenaid mixer, so my arm doesn’t have to feel like it’s going to fall off anymore.
-Add the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla and continue to beat until extra fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula every now and then too.
*Change your beater to the white dough beater. otherwise the dough will get all stuck in the wire beater. If you’re doing this by hand, a wooden spoon works for the whole process.
-Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything comes together.
-Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Really, you just want it to be firm enough to roll out.
– Dust the counter and rolling pin with flour. I baked these at my friend Judi’s house and forgot that she doesn’t eat gluten. I brought all of my ingredients over, but I didn’t bring any extra flour to dust the counter with. The cookies now have little brown specks in them because it’s GLUTEN-FREE flour! As for whether to not it’ll change the taste or texture of the cookies remains to be seen, but I will let you know!
-Take out one of the 4 dough balls from the fridge and roll it out to approx. 1/4 thickness (or even a little thinner if you like.) Use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shape you like. I’ve become lazy so I only do Christmas balls at this point, but by all means, do whatever suits you! The smaller cutters seem to work better with this dough though.
-Use a small metal flipper to transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet. I use a Silpat (silicone baking liner) but if you don’t have one you’ll want to lightly grease the cookie sheet with butter. (Really, if you like to bake, nothing beats a Silpat!)
-Bake at 350 degrees on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they’re golden brown around the edges.
I’m kind of addicted to the sprinkles and whenever I’m in a new store I’ll always suss out their sprinkle selection…. this year my newest acquisition is the 2 mm silver dragees. I love them!
What I usually do for my icing is just spoon out the icing sugar into a small bowl then add a little cream (half and half) until I have the consistency I want. For the sake of writing this post though I decided I’d try and figure out an actual recipe for the icing to make life easier. Here’s what I came up with …
2 c. icing sugar
4 tbsp. cream
-Add 3 tbsp. of the cream to the icing sugar to start with then add the rest if you need it. The best consistency is not so runny that it drips off the cookie, but not so thick that you have to spread it on like peanut butter. Fool around until you find whats best for you.
-I use a small butter knife to put the icing on. You can ice about 3-5 cookies at a time then sprinkle them all at once. I bake a few batches of these every year so I like to make a little production line to save time.
-The cookies will need at least 6 hours for the icing to fully harden so just cover them with a little wax paper so bugs won’t land on them. Yup, those are the kinds of things I worry about!