Let’s Bake A Tradition

By: Ashley Ocampo

The holidays often bring to mind the image of baking sugar cookies, cut into all sorts of holiday shapes, and decorated with sprinkles. It's a fun holiday tradition you can start with your preschoolers, or even your older children. They will have long lasting memories of baking in the kitchen with you. So, put on your aprons, and let's get started.

First you need a good sugar cookie recipe. Here is a favorite, that works well with cookie cutters.

4 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
3/4 t nutmeg
1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 c sour cream

In a larger mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together till fluffy. Stir in vanilla and eggs. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add flour mixture gradually to butter mixture, alternating with sour cream in portions. Blend well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, separate cookie mixture into 4 portions, use one portion at a time to roll out to 1/4" thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Keep remaining
portions refrigerated till ready to use one at a time. Place cut out cookies on cookie sheets approximately 1" apart. Bake at 450 F for 4-6 minutes, or till edges become golden brown.

You can frost them, after cooling, with the basic frosting recipe below. Just mix together all ingredients until smooth. Food coloring can help you get a whole palette of colors to work with.

3/4 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
food coloring (optional)

If you find that your cookies spread during baking, here are some tips to help reduce it.

  1. High sugar content increases spread. But since you are making sugar cookies that really can't be helped. You should use fine or
    confectioner's sugar in your recipe and that should help.
  2. Cream butter and sugar just until it is a paste. If the mixture becomes light and fluffy this will increase the spread.
  3. Cook at a high temperature so that the cookies set up before they have a chance to spread.
  4. Use a high gluten or bread flour in your cookies.
  5. Don't grease the pan that you bake the cookies on. This way the grease won't spread the cookies out.

Starting holiday baking traditions is a great way to get your younger children involved in the festivities of the season. Most young children will be able to help with some part of baking cookies whether it's helping with measuring and mixing or cutting out the cookies and helping frost. Seeing their finished works gives a wonderful sense of self accomplishment. It can also be a learning experience, you can discuss measuring with your older
preschoolers, or even learning colors, while frosting, for the youngest bakers.

Ashley Ocampo is a freelance writer and mom who publishes the Labor of Love Recipe Box, a daily newsletter that contains quick, easy dinner ideas for your whole family. To subscribe send a blank email to tlolrecipebox-subscribe@topica.com. She also publishes The Labor of Love News, a weekly ezine with articles, pregnancy and parenting tips, recipes, crafts and more. To subscribe send a blank email to lolnews-subscribe@topica.com

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