My kids have always helped me bake. They stir, operate the mixer, measure, and decorate. My daughter especially loves it.
We used to try to do the traditional, Christmas-card, sugar cookie process. The kids were still really small, though, and it was always a mess.
A lot of recipes call for softening butter, so you have to plan for your cookies 3 hours in advance, or do a complicated boil-water-put-it-in-a-glass-for-a-minute-pour-it-out-and-place-it-upside-down-over-a-stick-of-butter-for-a-while-and-hope-for-the-best dance. Neither worked well for me and my kids.
The recipes also want you to chill the dough. How does this sound:
Me: let’s make cookies!
(measure and mix. Dough goes into the refrigerator)
Me: Now, we just wait for two hours.
(Sad faced children)
It never worked out anyway. Since those recipes need the dough to stay cold, me and my littles were racing the clock to get everything rolled and cut. I wanted my kids to be included in the process, and little hands need time to get things done.
Then, there’s the fact that you have to flour the board. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. With kids, though, the stickiness factor quadruples, and, no matter what I do, we end up with cookies that taste like cardboard and look nothing like the cookie cutters.
Too little chilling. Too much rolling. Too much flour.
(If you’re in a similar boat, maybe because your kids are just really little, I suggest cheating. Make rice crispy treats (or buy a sheet of the things), cut with cookie cutters, and use store-bought tubes of icing. You can make memories, and stuff should still end up edible.)
Then, there came the magical recipe that made traditional sugar cookie baking and decorating possible with even my tiny children. I found it on Pinterest many moons ago, and it’s thanks to this recipe that my kids and I have made forest cookies, pumpkins, acorns, candy canes, Christmas trees, hearts, and Easter eggs.
The butter can be just a little softened. No chilling needed. Roll, cut, and add flour, flour, flour, and they still somehow taste like tender, buttery cookies and still look just like the cookie cutter.
I have had no contact with the writer before, and I’m not sure if she knows what a gift this recipe is; she doesn’t even mention baking with children throughout her whole description/instructions. I’m grateful, though.
Here’s to you, Katrina’s Kitchen, and your “Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever.” Because of you we have made wonderful baking memories, and, without you, we would have eaten a whole heck of a lot of rice crispy treats. I look forward to Christmas cookies soon.
Here’s the page (check out her shortening frosting recipe, too): http://www.inkatrinaskitchen.com/best-sugar-cookie-recipe-ever