Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies (about 26)

A few months ago, my pals over at Serious Eats asked if I’d be interested in delving into a bit of Cookie Science to explain how ingredients like butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda and baking powder function within a recipe, along with an in depth look at how techniques like creaming until “light and fluffy” truly work.

cookie dough samples

Over a period of six weeks, I blasted through twenty-five pounds of sugar, fifteen pounds of flour, twelve pounds of butter, six dozen eggs, and a quart of vanilla extract. Not only did I walk away with a better understanding of cookies in general, I came to know the ins and outs of three recipes in particular: oatmeal, gingersnaps, and old fashioned sugar cookies.

While the articles focused on general rules of thumb that could be applied to most any cookie, I couldn’t help but learn all the ins and outs of those three recipes in particular. For example, when it comes to sugar cookies: less is more.

sugar cookie samples

While extra rich local and European butters made for a better tasting dough, they baked up indistinguishable from cookies that started with grocery store brands. Likewise, expensive “sparkling” sugars looked picture perfect prior to baking, but the extra large crystals formed a heavy crust that browned too quickly, distracting from the soft and chewy texture within.

Simple granulated sugar worked best, giving the cookies a snowy exterior before melting into a whisper thin shell (alternately, for those who prefer a bit of crunch, I discovered dunking the portioned dough in ice water helps achieve a crisper coat).

Curiously, cookies rolled in sanding sugar or nonpareils baked up a little fluffier— perhaps because of their slightly alkaline pH.

rainbow sprinkle cookies

Whatever finishing touch you choose, these old fashioned sugar cookies will always be chewy and soft, with a hint of crispy caramelization only around the very edges. My brother is crazy about them after they’ve softened for a day or two in an airtight container, but I think they’re best fresh out of the oven. To that end, bake only what you need and refrigerate the rest; this dough will keep for up to a week.

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Yield: about twenty-six 3” cookies

8 ounces* unsalted butter, cool but pliable, about 60°
10 ounces sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if iodized)
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg, straight from the fridge
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
11 1/4 ounces all purpose flour, roughly 10% protein
assorted sanding sugars, nonpareils, or plain granulated sugar

Adjust oven rack to the middle position, preheat to 350°, and line two aluminum baking sheets with parchment (not wax!) paper.

Combine butter, sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, nutmeg, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low to moisten, increase to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Crack in the egg and continue beating until smooth, about a minute more, pausing halfway through to scrape the bowl with a flexible spatula. Resume mixing on low, sprinkle in flour, and continue until a thick dough is formed.

Divide into twenty six 1-ounce portions with a 2-Tablespoon scoop (the plain dough can be refrigerated in a zip-top bag for one week, or frozen up to a month; simply soften to room temperature before using). To help the decorative coating stick, roll each ball of dough until smooth and round, then tumble in a bowl of sanding sugar, nonpareils, or sugar until thoroughly coated.

Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2” between each, and bake until pale gold around the edges but still puffy and soft in the middle, about 15 minutes. Cool directly on the baking sheet until firm, about 10 minutes, and enjoy warm. In an airtight container, leftovers will keep up to a week at room temperature.

*For those who prefer baking with grams or cup measurements, check out the original version posted on Serious Eats.

Fork!

« Back to the Recipe Box



Any questions?

Dec 17, 2015 · 10:38 AM

What a wonderful post! I always want to know the hows and whys, but prefer for someone else to go through the pounds of butter, flour and everything else to find the answers. Happy holidays Stella.

 · Laura @MotherWouldKnow · http://motherwouldknow.com

Dec 17, 2015 · 11:15 AM

Thank you for explaining the science behind these classic sugar cookies. Because party goers at my house prefer everything bite-sized, I would like to use my 1TBS scoop. Should I lower the baking temp to 325°F, lessen the baking time, or both?

 · somebunnyslove  · http://somebunnyslove.com

Dec 17, 2015 ·  1:16 PM

Thanks for all these insights.

 · Anna  · 

Dec 17, 2015 ·  1:22 PM

This post made my heart sing! I love your recipes and am so jazzed that you are posting again, for however brief!

 · Kathryn · 

Dec 17, 2015 ·  3:37 PM

I agree with Kathryn! I was surprised to see your post — PLEASANTLY surprised, I should add – and I hope you keep it up. How is the book?

 · Tara · http://littlehomekitchen.wordpress.com

Dec 18, 2015 ·  1:34 PM

I made these last night, and the dough balls are in the freezer ready to bake & dip in lemon white chocolate later tonight. Can you talk about your method of mixing on low and sprinkling in all the flour? It’s not one I’ve heard before – what’s the science behind it?

 · Sarah · http://www.thesweeteryboston.com

Dec 19, 2015 · 12:36 PM

YOU’RE BACK!!!! I love your blog and recipes. Your caramel sauce is absolutely divine and I always stop here when I need to bake something. Thanks for being awesome and I’m so happy to see you’re back!

 · Hollister · 

Apr 09, 2016 ·  5:10 AM

How lovely to see you’re still alive! Even though I miss your articles (and all the great ideas in the comments), I’m guessing all those projects you’re working on are more exciting. Good for you and good luck with all you’re doing!

 · MA · 

Apr 14, 2016 ·  4:09 AM

Cookies! My daughter extremely like it. I want to do it for her. Thank your recipe!

 · Janet @ healthoop · http://healthoop.com/food/

Apr 14, 2016 ·  4:13 AM

I love cookies! I also love this food. Thanks! Please share with me when you have new posts http://healthoop.com/beauty/

 · Anna · 

Oct 07, 2016 ·  2:25 PM

This is so informative! This is actually very cool to know! Thanks for the great post!

 · Manni | OfRecipes · http://www.ofrecipes.com/

Jan 27, 2017 ·  8:20 PM

Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this site.

It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to get that
“perfect balance” between usability and visual appearance.
I must say that you’ve done a amazing job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very
fast for me on Opera. Superb Blog!

 · Mohamed · http://percentage-calculator.co/what-is-a-percentage/

Apr 29, 2017 ·  3:43 AM

Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with
hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no backup.
Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?

 · adult toy review · https://shadwan56.tumblr.com

May 23, 2017 ·  3:58 PM

You’ve made some good points there. I looked on the web
to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.

 · adult toy review · https://rihannasvoicecoach.tumblr.com/

Jul 05, 2017 ·  4:25 PM

Great work you do here. I hope you keep updating the site.

 · raul · 

Sep 01, 2017 ·  9:39 AM

I love your book and histories of the sweets,,,,Having been to japan I fell in love with there sweets…any chance you could create some of them?

 · kat · 

Sep 08, 2017 · 10:17 AM

Businesses are erasing the boundaries between nations and as a upshot, communication compete with the
requisite part in expanding your reach as entrepreneur.
Communication, in this be important, is the ability to translate between any language
doublet there is and the transfer services boom has made it calm
easier. You legitimate have to coerce sure-fire the circle you trust
your rendition offers fair accommodation, which can be verified close checking the reviews of the particular one.

 · career in translation · http://pickwriters.myfreesites.net/home/is-a-career-in-translation-for-you-7-questions-to-ask-yourself

Sep 25, 2017 ·  7:37 AM

Thanks you very match for this good lesson. i really appreciated .
can please prepare for us a lesson about suffix

 · How to write in cursive 1/3 · http://writesuperessay.us/video/how-to-write-in-cursive-13-vid-bVL2IuqNODU

Sep 25, 2017 ·  7:32 PM

It has not till hell freezes over been easier to choose between the transportation services, as all
consumer opinions and testimonials are gathered in identical
categorize for you to pick the best. Levant peevish quality
and as a conclude wretched familiarity by means of
consulting any transmission website reviews.

Thoroughly written testimonials wish guide you
during the activity of selecting the entire and alone transfiguration waiting
that will in good shape your needs.

 · PickWriters · https://pickwriters.blogspot.com/

Sep 29, 2017 ·  5:16 AM

It has not till hell freezes over been easier to opt between the interpretation services, as all consumer
opinions and testimonials are gathered in anyone place fitted you to
pick the best. Escape peevish quality and as a end result inadequate experience alongside consulting any rewording
website reviews. Unreservedly written testimonials will example you by the dispose of of selecting the
song and only transfiguration waiting that will-power spasmodically your
needs.

 · http://theinternationalcenter.org · http://theinternationalcenter.org

Sep 29, 2017 ·  1:53 PM

I think you have to remember here that these big consulting
firms really exploit ambitious ‘top tier’ students for cheap
labour and brandingas long as you have a good GMAT and an Oxbridge college on your C.V., these
guys can leverage this to create an illusion of value.
The truth is, their days are numbered as structured and unstructured data
increases and democratises with innovative processing platforms and
software frameworks. The over reliance on frameworks
instead of asking the question ‘have customer numbers gone
down’ or ignoring obvious additional revenue streams like corporate events, branded concessions, family friendly and other special screenings etc.
can be put down to nerves and fact these guys are only there to crunch
numbers for two years. After this, it is up the organisation or outas long
as you look the part (i.e. will appear credible enough to customers for consultants to charge them) then you
are good to go. If you can max billability, keep clients on the
tit, and bring in new clients this racket is for you. If
you can’t ask clients what they think and reflect that back to them in reports
or presentations without keeping a straight face then get out while you can.

 · Writing a dissertation · http://writesuperessay.us/video/writing-a-dissertation-vid-1hVNF_8S6Ok

Oct 02, 2017 ·  7:14 PM

It has not till hell freezes over been easier to choose between the transportation services,
as all bloke opinions and testimonials are gathered in one
categorize on you to pick the best. Take off peevish supremacy and as a culminate inadequate familiarity alongside consulting
any rewording website reviews. Unreservedly written testimonials choice influence you including the dispose of of selecting the one and but transfiguration checking that settle upon angry your needs.

 · The Word Point Translation Service · https://sitebuilder37703.dynadot.com

Oct 05, 2017 ·  1:45 AM

Great case study. Shame Nokia didn’t innovate. Great simple phones to use abroad though.

 · Digestive System · http://writesuperessay.us/video/digestive-system-vid-i5MH6ddyi74



you?
 

After clicking "preview" you must click submit to post your comment.