A roll-out sugar cookie that will be decorated with royal icing has a few requirements that may vary from sugar cookies you decorate with buttercream frosting.
1. It must not spread too much. Otherwise that cute Halloween cat cookie cutter will make an unattractive amoeba shaped cookie.
2. It must not poof too much. The surface of the cookie should be flat, otherwise your icing will run off the cookie.
3. It must taste good and have a nice texture. People ask ALL THE TIME, if my cookies taste as good as they look. They taste good. They are desirable. There are some mass cookie decorating shops that have ruined people’s expectations for taste.
I have found that different people have different priorities in their sugar cookies. Some want a sugar cookie with a lot of flavor, while some are more concerned with it being buttery and melting in your mouth. The most important thing to me, is that the cookie is nice and soft.
4. This is not a requirement for everyone, but it is for me. I want to be able to roll out the cookies immediately. I don’t plan ahead well enough to be able to chill the dough for an hour or two. I need instant results.
This is the recipe that I use to make my decorated sugar cookies. I have tried a lot of versions, but I keep coming back to the one, that ironically I tried very first. I have tried recipes with sour cream, with cream cheese, with shortening. I have tried mixing them in a variety of ways. And I have always liked and had the most luck with the most simple recipe.
It is adapted from Sweet SugarBelle’s recipe. I didn’t want to use powdered sugar, so I weighed the powdered sugar in her recipe and substituted it with regular, cheaper, granulated sugar. The best part was that it translated to exactly 1 cup. Way too easy. And I honestly couldn’t tell any different between the two sugars.
I also use salted butter, so I don’t use any additional salt.
And yes, I really do weight the flour. I think it gives more consistent results. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, then it is about 3 cups of flour.
If you feel like you have a good handle on making sugar cookie roll outs. Then just stop at the recipe. If you want more guidance, continue below the recipe for step by step instructions.
Here are your ingredients. Super easy.
The butter should be soft enough to make an indent with your finger using medium pressure, but not so soft that you can easily squish it. Keeping the butter as firm as possible, while still being able to cream it, will keep you dough from getting too soft and sticky even after mixing it.
If your butter is quite soft, it would be wise to refrigerate the dough before trying to roll it out.
Begin by creaming together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until it is well incorporated.
Mix the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl, then add it to the mixer. Mix, starting slowly, until it just comes together. Don’t over mix it.
Turn it out and knead it a few times until it forms a nice ball. It should be pretty soft and just a tad tacky, it shouldn’t stick to your fingers.
Lightly flour your surface and lightly flour the surface of the patted down dough.
Roll out the dough. Add a light dusting of flour (or alternately you can roll it between two sheets of wax, parchment paper or Syran wrap.) I use this type of Rolling Pin because it has handy guides to keep the thickness consistent. I usually roll it to either 1/4″ or 3/16″ inch.
Cut out your shapes and carefully scoop them onto a parchment or sil-pat lined baking sheet. Cut out your shapes strategically. The more times you roll out the dough, the tougher the cookie will be and the less it will hold its shape.
(This is my only sheet pan that is this shiny. Most of them are pretty beat up.)
Bake in a 400 degree oven. In my oven 6 minutes is perfect. But it may be 7 or 8 in yours. You will take the pan out before you think the cookies are done. Just when they loose their shine on the top. Then you will leave them on the pan for a few minutes for them to firm up and cool down before transferring to a cooling rack. When they have cooled a few minutes, you can gently flatten any bubbles or high spots with a bench scraper or a spatula.
You want your cookie to look like the one one the left. If you let it brown like the one on the right, it will be crunchy and hard when it cools completely.
After they are completely cooled, you can store them in a covered container. I use gladware or tupperware containers.
A lot of decorators recommend you wait a day until decorating the cookies. It is supposed to help with the icing bleeding and getting butter bleed.
They will stay soft for at least a week if they are covered. I have also frozen them with good results.