Sugar cookies are a universal childhood favorite. I’ve yet to meet a little who can turn one down. But these sugar cookies are a treat for the grownups, too. My husband swears they go well with Bourbon. My friend, Angela, and I were discussing cooking at lunch the other day. She’s a trained chef, amongst many other hats, yet she was confessing that she doesn’t really enjoy baking. Cooking on the other hand, she loves, because it allows for so much more flexibility and interpretation. I admit fully to sharing similar opinions. It’s a lot easier to taste a chicken entree and think – you know what this needs? Mushrooms. Mushrooms would make this a next level chicken dish. Baking, conversely, is more challenging. When your recipe starts 2 and 1/4 c. flour, 1 and 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder…… it’s a little tricky to just fly off the cuff and change that business up. That said, here’s what I *Always* change when baking. If the recipe called for vanilla extract, I double it – every time without question. If it calls for fresh lemon juice, ditto. The only other big adaptations, lie in temperature, cook time, and cool time. So – boring, maybe. You’re not invoking magical ingredients to change the entire flavor profile, but desperately important.
I’ve grown to love baking. The science of it. I love making adjustments and making it work. Cooking dinner will always be my first love, but baking – I see you over there – and I will rise to meet your challenge. Mostly, because I’m really excited about my new oven. The old one was on it’s last leg, and it’s impossible to maintain oven temp when your door won’t close completely. Which points out the other most critical rule in baking – Do you have an oven thermometer? Cause I bet you need one. I’ve cooked in kitchens all over town and all over this country and even the fanciest ovens often are off by at least 25 degrees. (I’m looking at you Vikings everywhere.) In cooking, no big deal. When baking? I’d argue that matters.
Sugar Cookie Recipe
(adapted from Martha Stewart  ) makes approx 32 cookies
3 c. White Lily All-Purpose Flour (when baking always White Lily!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 and 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
zest from 1 lemon
2 sticks butter, softened (1 c.)
2 large eggs
juice from zested lemon (approx 3 tbsp)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, brown sugar, and lemon zest. Mix on low speed, then add butter. Increase speed halfway, and mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low, then add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Cover a half sheet pan in parchment paper. Use a dinner spoon, to scoop then use your hands to roll into one inch balls onto baking sheet in a 2-1-2-1-2 pattern. Fill a bowl with very hot – nearly boiling water. Dip spatula in hot water, then flatten the tops of the cookies as shown below. If you skip the hot water, your spatula will stick. Sprinkle with sanding/shimmer sugar. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, let rest on baking sheet 2 minutes, then place on cooling racks.