Christmas Sugar Cookies are an essential part of the festivities this time of the year! Especially for bakers like me, I love the smell of sugar cookies wafting about through my kitchen.
Every year, I try to change up the sugar cookie recipe a little. I have to confess now, though. When I first started baking, I could never get a crispy cookie. I did make these things called ‘softies’ which had the structure of a cookie but the texture of a cake. And that was really the furthest I got with baking cookies. In recent years, I was lucky enough to try and experiment with a few recipes by my favourite celebrity cooks (you know I mean Nigella, so I am not even going to start!).
Getting a Christmas sugar cookie right has a few simple rules. Ensure that you use the best butter, cut down on your sugar so that it’s not too sweet, and stay calm. The typical ratio is 2:1 when it comes to flour and butter. Basically, you want half fat-to-flour. That is to say, if your butter ways 250g, then you have to add twice as much (500g) of flour to the mixture.
Another thing that I discovered was that the eggs need to be weighed. Now I’ll say straight off: I am not the sort that weighs eggs before adding them to anything. I find it too cumbersome. However, I’ve learnt that not only is it pretty simple to do, it’s an essential step. 60g of the egg is perfect for the sugar cookies here. If you’re doubling the recipe, please double the egg too. Before you freak out about getting the egg quantity right, a standard large egg weighs about 60g.
If you’re using a medium-sized egg, it will come up to about 50ish grams. This means that you crack a second egg in a separate bowl, beat it, and add it to your current egg by the spoonful until you come up to 60g. I wouldn’t fret about an extra 2 or 3 grams, but nothing more than an extra 5 grams of egg. Again, I can apologise for measuring eggs in disgusting detail, but its essential to get the cookie nice and crisp.
Once you’ve levelled up the egg to a nice 60 grams, the remaining egg from your second egg (if you had to go that route) can be used as egg wash for the top of your cookies before they go into the oven and before you add the topping. Egg wash is not essential, they can make your cookies a little too eggy as well. But its good to get your toppings (especially chopped nuts) to stick to the top of the cookie. Plus, it gives the cookies a nice golden finish.
Flour & Baking Powder
This recipe originally used Top flour. Top flour has an extra-fine quality and is good in cakes and swiss rolls, just like cake flour. In a cookie, top flour adds to the texture slightly, making the cookie meltier. I used plain flour in my recipe and added a teaspoon of baking powder because I was after a slightly harder cookie. I reduced the quantity of the baking powder used as I did not want the cookies to rise too much – a domed cookie won’t look so attractive.
Of course, the classic topping for cookies would be nuts. I went off the beaten path with this batch, simply because I was running out of nuts very quickly and had to rummage in the fridge and store cupboards to see what else I could use. So to echo the green that in Christmas, I used pumpkin seeds that I found lying in a half-full packet in the baking cupboard. And, I had some dried cranberries, too, which I added on some other cookies (once the pumpkin seeds ran out). A topping is not altogether essential, you can always make it without nuts, seeds or dried berries and it’ll be just as delicious.