Basic Rolled Sugar Cookie Dough
We especially like to add lemon zest to give these a fresh zing, but they’re tasty with vanilla alone.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla*
or 1 teaspoon vanilla plus zest of 1 lemon
1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Using your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. (If your mixer has multiple attachments, use the paddle.) Add the egg and vanilla (and lemon zest if you’re using it) or your extract of choice and mix until well blended.
3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended.
4. If your cookie design calls for adding food coloring, do so now, and continue blending until the desired color is reached and is evenly incorporated.
5. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and divide it into two or three equal portions. Form each one into a rough disk. Now you’re ready to roll, chill, and cut out the cookie shapes.
6. Using the templates, print and cut the templates on card stock. Cut out the paper templates and place on the rolled, well-chilled quarter-inch cookie dough. (Chilled cookie dough will cut better with clean edges than room temperature dough.)
7. Cut two sleigh sides, one the mirror image of the other. Cut two box sides, two box ends, and one box bottom. Transfer to a baking sheet.
8. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
9. Bake the pieces in the middle rack of your oven for 12-16 minutes or until the cookies start to turn slightly golden around the edges (smaller cookies will be done more quickly). NOTE: If you decide to bake two sheets of cookies at a time, space your two oven racks evenly in the oven and rotate the cookie sheets halfway through baking (that is, switch the position of the top sheet and bottom sheet and turn both so that the front of each sheet is at the back to promote even baking).
10. Cool the cookies completely on a rack before icing or decorating.