I was mesmerized and then spent my entire weekend watching cookie-decorating videos. I had to try it.
However, I was so eager to work with royal icing that I took the short cut many novice bakers take: I used store-bought, pre-made sugar cookie dough. It would save me time and a mess in the kitchen. I could roll out the dough, cut out my shapes, bake them, wait for them to cool and then begin decorating.
What were supposed to be cute little cupcake cookies came out like this:
Not exactly the cupcake shape I was hoping for.
I did my research, talked to people at work, and the next time I made cookies, I did everything differently. The results for my strawberry cookies were fantastic:
My cookies kept their shape! I was thrilled.
So what did it take for my sugar cookies to retain their cookie cutter shape? More than anything, it took time and patience. Here are my tips for creating sugar cookies that won’t turn into blobs when you bake them:
1. Make your dough from scratch. This is a must. And if you can find a recipe specifically for cut-out cookies, that’s even better. The pre-made dough you can buy at the store isn’t made to be used with cookie cutters, so don’t try and force it.
2. Put your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. Once your dough is made, divide it into two equal parts, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. Keep it there for a few hours or even overnight.
3. Put dough back in the refrigerator while cookies bake. Keeping the dough cool has a big impact on the outcome of your cookie shapes. Before placing your cut-out cookies on a tray, make sure they are freshly cut. Don’t cut out all your cookies and allow them to sit out and warm up while other cookies are baking.
It’s as simple as that! A little patience and a little extra work is well worth it to end up with cookies that retain their cookie cutter shape. Now that I had perfectly-shaped strawberry cookies, I could decorate with icing: