I hadn’t planned on having a sugar cookie baking marathon this week, but I was tired of chocolate and felt like experimenting. Specifically, I wanted to see if using Wondra in cut-out cookies would make a difference. The answer? Well, I think it was yes!
So what is Wondra? I remember it as the flour my grandmother would use for gravy. It’s a very light, fine, quick-dissolving flour that’s perfect for sauces or anything where you need the flour to blend in quickly without lumping. Also known as “instantized flour”, Wondra has traditionally and might still come in a canister, but our local HEB sells it in a 2 pound blue box with recipes on the side.
The dough is impossible to roll because it is so dry and crumbly. You have to pat it out onto parchment paper, chill and cut, which in my opinion is even simpler than rolling. You do have to allow for at least an hour of chill time — preferably more, as the cookies taste better when made with dough that’s chilled overnight.
I’ve made this recipe about 6 times in the past week, and Beth in New Jersey was nice enough to test it too. We both loved the results, as did all our tasters. My only complaint is that the dough is dry and doesn’t behave the way typical roll-out cut-outs should behave. But that’s what I have for now, and the end result is a very crumbly but uniform, light, cookie. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!
- 2 2/3 cups Wondra Flour (365 grams) -- Weigh or spoon into the cup carefully
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Rumford baking powder (non-aluminum tastes better)
- 3/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of kosher salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted Land o' Lakes butter, softened to cool room temp.
- 1 cup ( 7 oz) granulated sugar, ground in a coffee grinder after measuring
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 large or extra-large egg at room temperature
- 2 sticks (230 grams) butter, unsalted, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, omit if using salted butter
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon of great quality vanilla extract
- Line a large baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper. This will not be the tray you bake on, but the tray that holds the dough while it chills.
- In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add ground sugar and beat on high for two minutes or until mixture is creamy and smooth. Beat in the vanilla, scraping sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat until mixed.
- Gradually add flour mixture and stir to form a very stiff, dry dough. If you are using a handheld mixer, put the mixer down and use your hands to form the dough. If you are using a stand mixer with a paddle, you can let the paddle do the work. Dough might be more like crumbs, but they should hold together when you press them down.
- Empty the flour mixture out onto the lined tray and pat it down into a slab that's about 1/2 inch thick. You won't be able to cut it at this point because it's too crumbly. Using your hands, mash it inward and make it a tight slab. Cover with a sheet of nonstick foil or parchment and chill for at least an hour (preferably longer) or until the slab is very firm and holds together.
- You will not need any extra flour when cutting shapes. Using a 2 inch to 2 ½ cookie cutter, punch shapes out of the dough slab and carefully (they are delicate) arrange them on baking sheets.
- Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. They will become sturdier as they cool.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the salt (omit if using salted butter), then add the sugar gradually and beat until smooth. Beat in vanilla. If necessary, add a little whole milk to get the consistency you want. Decorate with this frosting or if transporting, use a royal frosting. This one crusts over, but will not get hard.
Another variation that works well and tastes great is to use European style butter (Plugra, unsalted) in place of butter. The European style butter has less moisture and will give you a dryer dough, so add a tablespoon or two of evaporated milk (cream might work, too). On the other hand, grocery store brand butter has a bit more moisture. The reason I recommend Land o' Lakes is because it's a good all-purpose butter, but I felt like the cookies made with European style were a tad bitter better if you can suffer through the dry dough or cheat and add the evaporated milk.
For a durable icing that dries hard, use a royal icing. For flavor, the buttercream I included with this recipe wins. It's a toss-up because buttercream tastes so good, but royal is so pretty.
I don't recommend margarine, but if it's all you have, omit the salt. If you use salted butter, omit the salt.
To measure the flour, your best bet is always to weigh it. If you don't have a scale, spoon a heaping cup and level off with a knife.
About the salt, I started off using a full teaspoon and loved the sweet & salty taste. If you are a sweet & salty fan, use the full teaspoon. I cut it down to 3/4 teaspoon plus a pinch just to be more conservative for those who don't like a bit of salt with the sweet.
- 1/3 cup Just Whites egg whites (in a carton near Egg Beaters)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 cups confectioners' sugar plus extra as needed for thickening
- Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy. Add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low, until incorporated. Increase mixer speed and beat in vanilla. Add more sugar as needed to get the consistency for outlining.
- Spoon a portion of the icing into a decorating bag fitted with a round tip. This thicker icing will be your outline.
- With a tiny bit of water, thin the remaining icing and divide among cups. Dye the icing different colors using gel food coloring. Spoon it into decorating bags fitted with round tips. This thinner icing will be your fill.
- Using the thicker icing, outline the shapes and let them sit on a cooling rack until the icing dries.
- Fill outlines with colored icing by squeezing it in between outlines and using a toothpick to carefully brush it up against the ends.