A lot of years ago (in fact, I think I was still in junior high), I finished a batch of Christmas sugar cookies. Being home alone at the time, I decided to be nice and bake a new batch. I went to town with a cookie cutter and sanding sugar. My mother wasn't at all upset that she got hardly any out of the batch I finished – she was more impressed by the cookies. It's been a tradition of mine to ever since to bake her sugar cookies before Christmas ever since. And with the Shine Supper Club doing holiday dishes, I decided to share my tradition.
For a few years, I deviated from that tradition a little, baking sourdough soft pretzels and rolling them out like cookies (still topped with sanding sugar though!), thanks to my new-found love of sourdough baking and my lack of sourdough sugar cookies. Now I happened to find a sourdough sugar cookie recipe. Perfect.
I used the almond variation of this recipe, and omitted the frosting. I'm not against frosting, but who needs the extra calories this time of year? Fortunately, these cookies are sweet and soft enough to go without it.
The recipe:Sourdough Sugar Cookies
Adapted very slightly from King Arthur Flour
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on how big your cookie cutter is1 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract or almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sourdough starter, active
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Sanding sugar or other desired decorations
In a large bowl, cream vegetable shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs, lemon or almond extract and vanilla extract until mixture is fluffy. Stir in sourdough starter; set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into sourdough mixture. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or overnight ( helps firm dough etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured board, roll dough to 1/4-inch thick; cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly browned (for me, it was about 15 minutes, but my cookies were on the large side). Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
When cool, frost and decorate as desired.
Other than taking a little longer than specified to bake (and 90 minutes was not quite enough time to chill!), I can't tell you how pleased I am with these cookies. Coupled with my Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies (and another recipe I've made for Sourdough Surprises, coming up on December 20th!), these are perfect for an all-sourdough cookie tin.
And on that note...how did one lonely red grain of sanding sugar get on this green Christmas Tree?