A Baker’s Dozen: A Cookie Tradition Has to Start Somewhere

by Dianne Boate

Two little plastic boxes containing leaf-shaped copper cookie cutters were a gift from years ago that sat unopened on a shelf in the kitchen for a long time. Happy was the day I finally opened the packages, and found on the back of the box my new all-time favorite recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookies.

SugarCookies1I am fairly fearless when it comes to making recipes, but I have always balked at “form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, refrigerate for one hour,” because to me this means you and your rolling pin weapon get to start a new battle. I stubbornly refuse to change this opinion when it comes to piecrust and rolled cookies. My answer is to find recipes that eliminate the chilling part. Down the road we’ll get to some piecrusts that will surprise you!

I had to read the recipe on the cookie cutter box three times to understand the simplicity of it. Then out came the ingredients, which were mixed, rolled out, cut out, and baked with great ease. This is a beautiful recipe that has an elegance of taste, great appearance, and stores well in airtight tins.

This recipe has saved me fret and frustration on Christmas gifts for three little boys in the family for about 12 years now. Every year there is some kind of new presentation. Here they are opening the first boxes:

SugarCookies2Here is the recipe, and please note the alternate plan using some cornmeal for added crunch:



  • 8 oz. room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 extra large egg (or large egg)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Mix baking powder and flour and add one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be very stiff—blend the last amount by hand. Add water only if you need to, a teaspoon at a time.

Do not chill dough.

Divide dough into two balls. Wrap loosely in plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

On a floured surface roll each ball into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.

Use a cookie cutter, dipping in flour before each use.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, to rack of oven for about six or seven minutes or until lightly browned.

Transfer to cooling rack. Dredge in sugar when cool. Makes about 30 cookies plus scraps.

Substitute 2/3 cup corn meal and use 2 1/3 cups flour for a variation.

About the scraps:

You can usually roll out dough scraps a second time, but I prefer not to do that. The baked scraps are lovely to have with morning coffee or afternoon tea, a wabi-sabi take on the cookie world. (My personal translation: Perfection within the imperfection—think of a rose with bug bites on the leaves.)

One year I was clowning around with the dough scraps, smooshed them together, then tried to decide what they looked like … monsters. The boys loved them that year.

SugarCookies3When the US Mint brought out shiny new dollar coins, I baked the coins into the cookies, another big hit! The next year it was cookies with green money.


Here is another effort that was more difficult—their names in cookie dough:

SugarCookies5Here is a new variation of the rolled sugar cookie, made for a friend’s birthday in the shape of a hat:


There is no limit to what this cookie can do!

The boys are now in college and the Cookie Tradition will carry on … oh my, what to make this year … as usual, I will think of it when I have the dough rolled out.

DianneBoateDianne Boate, a former staff member of the original Dating Game television show, and later, The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, is The Hat Lady, maker of custom millinery, and The Cake Lady, a special events baker for 30 years in the Bay Area. Between cake assignments she has had several one-woman photography shows, and participated as a botanical illustrator in group shows benefiting the Conservatory of Flowers, National AIDS Memorial Grove, Marin Cancer Institute, and University of California Alumni Association. Her website can be found at www.boatecollection.com

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