Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Secret Sugar Cookie Recipe - Revealed!

Grandma Cumings was famous in our part of Michigan for her wonderful cooking. Casseroles, bread, fried chicken, baked beans and pie all flowed through her capable fingers. And she was willing to share them all, recipe-wise, except one: an amazing sugar cookie that stayed soft and delicious. The recipe had come down to Grandma from ancestors more than a century before...and she was proud of it.

Fortunately, she was willing to pass on the recipe to her children and grandchildren, who made her cookies by the bushelful at Christmastime. My mom would make dozens of sugar cookies, which were then decorated by Little Brother, yours truly and a close group of cousins during one very long day. 
    First, the confectioner's sugar frosting in different colors. (One cousin, a democratic sort, made sure to use a little of every color on each cookie.) Then chocolate chips for snowmen buttons, red cinnamon hots for eyes and lacy edges on stars and bells. Silver dragee balls for shoes and hats. (How come you can't find these much anymore?) And sprinkles everywhere...on the table, our smeary mouths, and the floor. By nighttime and supper, it looked as if someone threw up in rainbows on the kitchen floor!

Now you too can make these wonderful sugar cookies for your cookie platter. 


1 cup margarine (that's what Grandma used - but you can substitute butter)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sour milk  (or use regular milk with a teaspoon of vinegar stirred in - wait 5 min.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (may be omitted)
1 teaspoon nutmeg

4-5 cups flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together margarine, sugar and eggs until they're mixed and fluffy. Add everything else and mix - last of all, the flour, added in one cup measures until you've got a moist cookie dough.
    Heavily flour your work area. Thump a large batch of dough in the middle, and sprinkle generously with 1/2 cup flour. (I generally work with a quarter of the batch at a time.) Carefully fold the flour into the dough until it's easier to work without sticking, then roll out thickly (approx. 1/4") on your floured work area. (Add more flour whenever needed.) Cut cookies with whatever cutter you like -- or use a sharp knife to cut diamonds or squares. (A floured glass can also cut circles.)
     Transfer the cookie cutouts to an ungreased cookie sheet, then bake 8-10 min., until the cookies are set and juuuussst starting to turn brown. (This step is very important.)  Do not, if at all possible, let the cookies actually brown. Remove from the cookie sheet, and let cool before frosting.

These are not as sweet as some cookies -- something I actually prefer. You can sprinkle them with sugar, sprinkles or add red-hots before baking, to add sweetness. Or frost and decorate after the cookies are cool. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen. (Store flat in layers, with waxed paper in between -- or if you don't mind a bent leg or busted hat or too, just bung them in the cookie jar.)

Thank you, Grandma!

sugar cookies, ready for the oven

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