Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sugar Cookies for Canada Day

Today is July 1 - Happy Canada Day! This also marks exactly half of this year being gone. Yikes... OK... don't want to think about that right now. It always sends me into a bit of a panic when I realize how quickly time is going by and how little I've done during that time. So, let's focus on baking :)

These simple sugar cookies are a dream to roll out and delicious to eat.
They are buttery but not oily. They are not too sticky, not too stiff, with the right ratio of crispness to softness. Best of all, they were sturdy enough to decorate (we didn't break a single one while decorating!) I think their amazing texture comes from the use of icing sugar in the dough and a short chilling period of 20 minutes in the fridge.

Of course, in line with the National holiday, it is only fitting that I picked a recipe from a Canadian cookbook called Bite Me, by sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat from Toronto. The 175 recipes in the book are simple. Although some recipes call for pre-made ingredients like ketchup, canned peaches or Ritz crackers, even Food Snobs shouldn't dismiss this book. Its pages are peppered with pop-culture inspired humour and sassy photos of plastic sumo wrestlers hoisting pieces of cake or Vegas showgirls wearing spoons. It also provides practical kitchen tips such as how to buy fish or soften cream cheese, and their take on cooking gadgets. The only catch, I can't seem to find it on… maybe that's because it's not a widely published book… but it should be!

Perfect Sugar Cookies
2 dozen | adapted from Bite Me Cookbook

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

1. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone liners. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

2. Using paddle attachment, cream together butter and powdered sugar, scraping down mixer bowl a few times in between. Add in egg and mix to combine. Add vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together to form a ball, sort of the texture of play-doh. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (or longer/frozen if well wrapped. If you do this, just thaw at room temperature enough so it is rollable). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

4. Roll dough out to 1/4" thickness and cut into shapes. Transfer to lined cookie sheets with just a little room between cookies to allow for spreading. Try to keep the unbaked cookies on cookie sheets in the fridge while waiting for the oven to preheat or between batch rotations. This helps the cookies maintain their shape and spread less.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are very lightly golden around the edges. The time can vary a lot depending on cookie thickness, size, your oven.

Lastly, here are a few Canadian fun facts:
*According to studies and research, Vancouver in British Columbia is tied with Zurich Switzerland for having the highest quality of life of any other city in the world. [That's my city!!! Go Vancouver!]
*A little over 16% of Canada’s population are immigrants.
*The original Star Trek owes much to Canada. Two of its stars – William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and James Doohan (Scotty) were Canadian.
*Canada sources approximately 20 to 30% of the world’s annual uranium output. As such, Canada is the largest producer of natural uranium in the world.
*Some of my fave Canadian musicians: Sarah McLachlan, Our Lady Peace, Alanis Morrissette, Chantal Kreviazuk & Jann Arden


Natalie... said...

Aw these cookies are so cute, i bet they were delicious too hehe!

Mary said...

Yum! I came to have a look at your TWD post, but I was completely distracted by these! I love sugar cookies and only think to decorate them at Christmas, which is a shame. Your son is adorable and it looks like you had tons of fun. Happy Canada Day! We're celebrating with the Queen here!

Brenda De Sousa said...

Happy Canada Day Tia!! I bet you and your adorable son had a blast decorating those delicious-looking cookies. I saw that cookbook at Chapters the other day and almost bought it. I wish I had now, I've heard good reviews on it. Have a great day today!!!

baking decorations said...

Your cookies look amazing! I love to bake and decorating! I have a blog about baking decorations and recipes. Please, visit my blog one day.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I tried making these cookies today. You wrote that the cookies had "the right ratio of crispness to softness". How crispy is crispy? My cookies were the same shade as yours but my family complained they were too soft, though I found them just a tad too soft. Do your cookies make loud, crunchy sounds when chewed? :D

Tia said...

@ anonymous - I found the edges to be crispy but not so crispy that they snap. they were similar in texture to those pillsbury slice and bake sugar cookies (the ones with the colored designs for different occasions, like xmas trees, vday hearts, etc). The centres were slightly softer. Maybe you could bake them for longer next time? Maybe you rolled yours thicker than mine?

Mine were sturdy enough to decorate. Maybe tender is a better word to describe them?