One of my favorite childhood memories is spending an entire weekend making Christmas cookies and candy with my mom. Dozens of recipes led to piles of Tupperware filled with treats in our kitchen throughout the season.
Christmas has always been a special time for me, and those holiday baking memories are certainly not lost on me. Among the many recipes we made during our baking marathons were these sugar cookies from a passed-down recipe my mom attributed to her Aunt Rene.
I never met Aunt Rene – I only know she was known for these cookies and a few other recipes my mom talked about – but I’m reminded of her every holiday season when I make a batch of these roll-out cookies. The recipe is unlike any I’ve tried before, and I’m sure it was somehow altered given the cake batter consistency you get when the dough is first finished. It requires kneading extra flour into the batter to create the consistency necessary for cutting into festive shapes.
Aunt Rene’s Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour (Plus another 3-4 cups for rolling out)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add sugar and shortening into a large mixing bowl and cream together. Add in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mix to combine. Combine 4 cups flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients 1/3 at a time.
Dough will have a batter consistency at this point. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled turn onto a surface and knead in extra flour 1 cup at a time, until dough forms. You can tell by the texture when you have enough flour. The dough will be soft, but won’t stick to a rolling pin.
Roll out to 1/4-inch thick and cut into shapes. Bake in preheated oven for 9 to 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack until ready to decorate.
Royal icing, sprinkles and other décor helps bring the finishing touch to these cookies. I like to eat them with as little decoration as possible, because the cookies themselves have plenty of sweetness.
6 cups powdered sugar
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add cream of tartar and vanilla. Separate 4 eggs and incorporate whites into the bowl, using a hand mixer to stir until smooth. Separate into smaller bowls and add food coloring, as desired. Use a piping bag to create designs, or dip cookies top-down into the bowl for a fully glazed effect.