Sugar cookies are perhaps the earliest baked good I ever remember making by myself. When I was about 8 or 9, armed with my mother’s (early 1970’s era) copy of Joy of Cooking, I would take over the kitchen and bake sugar cookies in our little countertop oven. I never really planned out what I would make in advance (and probably couldn’t have gotten a hold of many of the ingredients even if I had), so I’d often wind up making sugar cookies. I recall that the recipe I made called for cooking oil rather than butter or shortening (Or maybe it did call for butter or shortening, and being 8 and having neither of those things, I just substituted. I was an independent child.). Also, as I was using a small oven with a small baking sheet (about the size of a typical microwave), I was usually only good for one tray of conventional sized cookies. After that first batch, I would make pan-sized cookies (I was also an impatient child.).
These days, I don’t make sugar cookies all that often. It’s something I’d probably make if I had an extreme craving for sugar and had no other ingredients with which to make something more complicated. (I generally have other ingredients, so this scenario rarely occurs.) As a result, I don’t have a preferred recipe for sugar cookies. This year, I got my recipe from a wonderful site called joyofbaking.com.
C., who is 11, and well on his way to becoming a master baker himself, helped me roll and cut the dough. After a few less than stellar attempts at mixing royal icing (using a few different recipes) we ended up with an old recipe (after following the link, scroll down for the icing recipe) I had jotted down years ago from the Necco site — it’s the recipe for the mortar of my gingerbread houses. We added gel food coloring and used ziplock baggies with a corner snipped off to pipe the icing on. C. did such a wonderful job I think he should take over this particular baking project next year!