Friday, December 10, 2010
Marta Perry’s Rolled Sugar Cookies
Generations of Pennsylvania Dutch women have spent long, tiring, but happy hours come December in baking Christmas cookies. No home would be complete without at least several kinds, but the crowning achievement in Christmas cookie-dom has to be the traditional rolled sugar cookie. Each group, maybe each baker, has its own particular take on how these are to be done. The Moravians typically use confectioners sugar instead of white sugar in their recipes. Sometimes the cookies are baked with a sprinkling of colored sugar, but our family tradition has always been the iced cutout cookie. Shapes vary with the cookie cutters that are available, but stars and trees are probably the most common. My own children loved a particular reindeer cutter, despite the fact that the reindeer legs were very fragile and might break during the icing process.
The following recipe has been popular in my family since before I can remember. My mother made rolled sugar cookies with me when I was a child, and I did the same with my three kids. Now, I’m making them with my grandchildren. The oldest, ten-year-old Bjoern, loftily explains to his younger sibling and cousins, “It’s a tradition.”
In the photo you'll see Estella, complete with Santa hat, making Christmas cookies with me. This is a special picture for me, because my husband and I were at her house, awaiting the arrival of her little brother, Tyler. We filled in the time making Christmas cookies!
Rolled Sugar Cookies
1 Cup Crisco
1 ½ C sugar
1 t vanilla
4 C flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
4 to 6 T milk
Cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs; beat. Add other ingredients and mix well. The dough may be refrigerated at this point for ease in handling. Roll out very thin on a floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for about six minutes, until very lightly browned.
After the cookies have cooled on a rack, frost them with the following confectioners sugar icing. The children can then decorate still more with icing tubes or colored sugars, if you really want that extra dose of sweetness.
This recipe makes a very thin, crisp cookie that is not overly sweet, contrasting well with the frosting.
1 box of confectioners sugar
½ C butter or margarine, softened
3-4 T milk
1 t vanilla
Combine and beat until smooth and creamy.
It's best to let the icing dry a bit before storing the cookies. Then store them in tight containers with wax paper between the layers. I promise, they'll go fast!