How to Make Perfect Sugar Cookies
I received an email from Kathy about preparing the "perfect" sugar cookie. She told me she made two batches of sugar cookie dough using the same recipe and one batch turned out perfect while the other "was puffy and lost shape."
Kathy wanted to know why this happened so I contacted my friend Chef Jennifer Field, a graduate from the Orlando Culinary Academy, for some help since I'm not much of a baker. Jennifer had a bunch of questions that were answered in Kathy's next email. Here is what she said,
The batches were made and cooked on different days. The second batch was refrigerated for a couple days (at least). The recipe was the same, however, I may have beat my shortening, sugar and egg mixture longer the second time. Temp the same.
Kathy's Definition of the Perfect Sugar Cookie
My definition of a perfect sugar cookie is one that is light and a little crisp with the buttery icing softening it just slightly. I'm not into a fluffy cakey sugar cookie.
I definitely want one that will hold the shape and design of my cutter. I want to make snowflake shaped cookies at Christmas and my cutter has little cut outs you can add for more detail.
This is the recipe I used:
Sugar Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup oil
- 1 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cup flour
- Bake at 325° F in a convection oven.
Chef Jennifer Field's Recommendations
With these facts in hand, Chef Jennifer was able to point out why the second batch did not turn out perfect plus offer some changes to Kathy's recipe for future cookies. Here is what she said,
"What immediately jumps out at me is the refrigeration time for the second batch of cookies. I see that your leavener was baking soda. Baking soda in a baked good only has one chemical reaction: it fizzes and bubbles when it gets wet. This, of course, happened when you first mixed your ingredients together. Since you baked your first batch immediately, the soda did its job correctly.
As your dough for the second batch chilled in the fridge, the chemical reaction ceased. Your rise was probably uneven because you beat more air into the dough (you said your mixing time was longer the second time) so, even though the soda had fizzled by the time you baked, you still had lots of little air bubbles that were probably not evenly distributed in your dough, causing a wonky rise.
I see that the recipe called for 1 teaspoon each of soda and cream of tartar. It sounds like an old recipe. Try substituting double acting baking powder next time. Double acting powder has two chemical reactions: one when it gets wet and a second one when it gets hot. So, even if you let your dough hang out in the fridge and lose the first reaction over time, you'll still get a fairly even second boost of leavening when you put your dough in the oven.
Since you're also interested in your cookie holding a fairly detailed shape after baking, I'd also consider using shortening in place of the oil. Since oil is liquid at room temperature and when heated, cookies will tend to spread a bit. Shortening, being a solid at room temperature and a fairly slow melter, will yield a cookie with less spread.
I hope this helped! Good luck with your baking.
Chef Jenni Field
Pastry Sous Chef
P.S. Your idea of a perfect sugar cookie made me drool. Just a little:-)"
Me too! - RG
I'm so excited to get this info. I will try it out right away. Perhaps I should stop baking cookies and go into the business of writing the captions under the food pictures! 🙂
Chef Jenni Field
Hope my tips were helpful, and I really hope your cookies turn out exactly the way you want them to! And keep writing those captions, lady!
Couple of comments from an 'amateur' -first, any time I bake I first do all the 'wet', then add the 'dry.' For this recipe, I would cream the shortening and the sugars, add the vanilla, etc to the eggs and beat them lightly, then fold into the creamed sugars. Flour and etc I would sift together, then fold slowly into the wet mixture.
And secondly, I have 'better' - at least to my taste - recipe for a soft sugar cookie. I do not know the rules here for sharing recipes but if allowed I would be glad to share with you.
Best regards, and
im so happy you put this inormation on the web i wil try it out right away you should make a poem about this.
Hi Ted, I would love to see your recipe for soft sugar cookie. Look forward to trying it.
I would love to try your soft sugar cookie receipe. I browsed the forum briefly and didn't see it. Could you point me in the right direction?
Thanks for the requests for the cracked sugar cookies. I sincerely hope everyone enjoys this old recipe.
Cracked Sugar Cookies
1 1/4 CP sugar
1 CP unsalted butter, softened
(or use half butter, half margarine)
3 large eggyolks, slightly beaten
1 TSP. vanilla
2 1/2 CP sifted all-purpose flour
1 TSP. baking soda
1/2 TSP. cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
Cream sugar and butter together until light. Beat in yolks and vanilla. Sift together the measured, sifted flour, baking soda and cream of tartar, then fold into the batter sugar mixture.
Form dough into walnut sized balls and place about two inches apart on the cookie sheets. Do not flatten. Bake for about eleven minutes, until tops are cracked and the tops are just turning colors. Cool on wire rack.
Yield: about 48 cookies.
Thats alot of flour, isnt it? 4cups!!!!!!!! I'
m making it right now, and its reallly crumbly! not sure if thats good or bad!
Regarding 4 cups flour
I’m trying that recipe for first time too. I mixed everything else good and added flour last.. and dough it turned out great.. have in fridge For little while so can roll out and cut out..
to avoid issues with measuring flour by volume, I generally consider "1 cup" of flour to equal 4 ounces. In the original recipe calling for 4 cups of flour, I would use a pound. 1 cup of creamed butter + 1/2 cup of oil + 2 eggs should give you a dough with a good consistency. If you don't measure your flour by weight, it is possible that you might have 4-5 more ounces of flour than you need.
wow this recipe was great i am using it at my holiday parties thanks so much!
i was joyed when i saw this recipe
i wanted to make a dessert for christmas 2008 but i had no clue what i was going to do
forsure im trying the sugar cookies
thank you! 🙂
soon to be pastry chief ,
great recipe..my kids just love-em!..
I LOVE THEMMM
Great receipe. I made them twice so far. Thanks.
The only sugar cookies I ever loved were the ones from our school lunchroom. They were thick and crumbly. The taste was out of this world. Any idea how to make these?
Hi Kelly, that may be difficult. There are a lot of schools out there and I'm guessing as many recipes for their cookies.
This recipe is just what i was looking for!
I'm from japan and I always thought most of cookies i had was kind of soft. I like that kind,too ,but i really want to make nice crisp sugar cookie! In the recipe, oil means vegetable oil? If I'm using shortening instead of oil what is the measurement ?
if you could give me answers for those question that will be great!
Hi, Sachiko. To make a nice, crisp cookie, I suggest you use all butter rather than oil or shortening. You are correct that "oil" means vegetable oil in this case.
If you're not worried about spreading, butter is definitely the way to go to get a nice crisp cookie.
Just cream in 12 oz (3 sticks, US) of softened-but-still-cool butter with the sugars at the beginning of the recipe and then go from there, leaving out the oil entirely.
Hope this helps:)
I made this recipe just now and I am so disappointed with the turn out. I tried to find a similar recipe to the one I had made in the past and did not succeed with this batch. Hope you all enjoy this recipe-not to my taste
Hi Marianne, sorry you didn't enjoy the recipe. If you find one you like and works for you, send it along. - RG