Friday, February 11, 2011

Cookie Cutter Classics: Lemon Sugar Cookies

I'm a sucker for simple cut-out cookies. No frosting, just the equisite flavor of butter, local whole-wheat pastry flour and sugar.

Cut-out sugar cookies were the first thing I learned to bake as a child, and when I was a teenager I collected a variety of cookie cutters. I haven't added to this collection for years, but I still love to rummage through it, looking for the perfect shape for a holiday or celebration. Just a few days ago I was looking for a heart cookie cutter to make cookies for Valentine's Day.

These are just a few of the odd shapes I found, and I have to say some of them make me wonder what I was thinking when I bought them. Okay I get the bat and ghost, but on what occasion would I bake whale cookies? And what's the story behind the carrot cookie cutter?
The most intriguring shape I found was an axe. Maybe it's supposed to be for President's day but I couldn't resist baking the heart and axe together. Why not send mixed messages this Valentine's Day?
I changed the recipe from this Sunset version that listed two eggs, a cup of butter and way too much flour. I don't need that many cookies, and since I've cut my food budget allowance, only one egg was allowed for the cookies this week. Local flour, butter and eggs improves the taste of these cookies. Trust me, even on a food budget it's worth it to go for quality. Here's the recipe:

Lemon Sugar Cookies
(Makes about thirty 2-inch cookies)
These simple butter cookies are a lot like my favorites and they get most of their flavor from locally-produced fresh whole wheat flour and the local butter. Don't skimp on the quality of ingredients for these sweet treasures.

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon chopped lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 extra-large egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups Nash's whole wheat pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

1. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Blend in the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. When mixture is blended, stir in the beaten egg.

2. In a separate bowl combine the pastry flour and baking powder. Blend well. Combine the egg mixture and flour mixture, adding more flour if necessary to make the dough form a ball. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and lay on parchment paper on a baking sheet or on a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

Scary close-up with one lone crumb clinging to my Cooking Assistant's nose.

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