Even though the process can become messier and the results less perfect, I love baking with kids. It makes for a fun project (just this week we had a friend of Laurel's over for a baking play date -- so fun!), offers yummy rewards, and you can choose to work in some math teaching if you like. Laurel and I recently tried a new (to us) cookie recipe from Lori Longbotham's Luscious Lemon Desserts that was just delightful; a lovely twist on basic sugar cookies. Below I've edited the steps and added notes to offer some shortcuts and tips, as well as ideas for incorporating kids into the process. Enjoy!
Old-Fashioned Lemon Sugar Cookies
Makes 4 dozen cookies
- 1 2/3 cups sugar (split)
- 2 teaspoons pure lemon oil (split)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup finely grated lemon zest (approximately 6 lemons worth)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 2 large non-stick baking sheets. (I recommend using Silpat mats. You don't need to spray or butter the mat and the cookie bottoms always come out perfect.)
- Stir together 2/3 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon lemon oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. (I never sift anything and it seems to work out fine. Laurel is old enough to measure out ingredients but with younger kids you can hand them the measured out ingredients to dump and mix in the bowl.)
- Using a hand or standing mixer, beat the butter, remaining 1 cup of sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon oil, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture and lemon juice and beat until just blended. (Experienced and steady-handed kids can be tasked to work the hand mixer or turn on the standing mixer and keep an eye on consistency. If you are using a standing mixer, make sure you lock the mixer in the down position before your kid turns it on. Just in case!
- Form balls with tablespoonfuls of dough. Roll them in the sugar-lemon oil mixture (from step 2) to coat well and place about 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass until about 2 inches round and 3/8 inch thick. Sprinkle each one with a pinch of the sugar-lemon oil mixture. (Laurel and I split the dough. I followed the steps here -- except that I forgot the final sprinkling step -- and she rolled out her dough on a floured surface and cut it with cookie cutters. This dough was much softer than traditional sugar cookie dough so it was harder to roll out and cut, but Laurel was determined! One thing that helped was to use shapes with simple patterns/edges. Both versions were delicious!)
- Bake, one sheet at a time, for 8-10 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. (I popped the sheets in two at a time and kept an eye on them. It worked fine!)
Image credit: Suat Eman via FreeDigitalPhotos.net