After years of fighting with fussy, crumbly, sticky sugar cookie doughs, I finally found one that is a joy to work with. I wish I could tell you where it came from, but I have been making it for so many years that I just can’t recall. I do know that it did not originally call for lemon zest or juice, those are modifications I made to the dough and icing because I love lemon anything; it adds just a hint of lemon flavor to the cookie without being overpowering or alienating the refined taste buds of small children.
What I like most about this dough, aside from the flavor, is that it is easy to work with; no refrigeration is required, there is no sticking to the rolling pin, cookie cutters or work surface and there is no risk of tough-textured cookies from overworked dough. I hope you’ll give it a try with your family and enjoy making them together as much as our family does.
Lemon Sugar Cookie Cut-outs
4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks) at room-temperature (don’t melt it!)
2 teaspoons vanilla
zest of one lemon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
In a second bowl (with a stand mixer or electric mixer), beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.
Stir in flour mixture one third at a time to make a stiff dough. (If you can get a little witch in a chicken apron to help with this step, all the better.)
Don’t be alarmed that the dough looks crumbly at this point- it should. The beauty of this dough is that it comes together due to the warmth of your hands, kneading it briefly until it just comes together.
Divide dough into 4 pieces, keeping covered with plastic wrap until ready to roll. DO NOT REFRIGERATE DOUGH.
Very lightly dust work surface with flour. With a rolling pin, roll out one piece at a time to 1/2 inch thickness. It’s important not to roll out too thinly.
Cut out with cookie cutters.
Bake ON PARCHMENT PAPER until barely golden (approx. 12 minutes). Cool before decorating.
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix sugar and water to form a thick, smooth icing. Divide into dishes based upon the number of different colors desired. Stir in food coloring to reach desired shade(s). Add any additional decorations before icing dries. It dries very quickly.
To make leaf variegation in the icing, ice one cookie at a time, then dip a toothpick in a different colored frosting & drag the toothpick through the wet base color on the cookie.