If you want to bake cut-out cookies with your children, finding the perfect recipe is crucial. So we’ve saved you time and found it. Easy to put together, easy to handle, and totally scrumptious, this simple cut-out cookie recipe gives a crumbly texture and a plain flavour that’s perfect with a cup of tea. Well, after all that baking – not to mention cleaning – you deserve it.
Developing the recipe
Baking with children is messy, creative, and exciting. As you progress, you can teach them essential baking skills – from rolling dough to rubbing butter into flour – and help them on their way to becoming expert bakers. But at the beginning, it’s mostly about mess. So what sort of recipes are appropriate for the youngest bakers?
When we started searching for the best cut-out cookie recipe, we had certain criteria. Firstly, we wanted a dough that could be mixed by hand – because creaming or melting butter, whisking eggs to peaks or food-processor mixing all exclude younger children from the action. Second, we wanted a dough that would withstand a lot of handling. Delicate pastry dough is ruined in the overexcited hands of children. Third, the dough had to cut out easily and bake evenly, without distorting the shapes – it’s very important that your giraffe still looks like a giraffe after it’s baked! Finally, the cookies had to taste great. It’s vital to your child’s pride that the cookies are enjoyed by everyone after they have cooled.
Baking cookies is one of the simplest of projects, but you will need a couple of special items. As well as weighing scales and bowl, you will need a rolling pin that is suitable for use by your child(ren). And, of course, the cookie cutters. If all you have is a round scone cutter, then use it. The children will be able to decorate the baked cookies and transform them into works of art. But, to increase the enjoyment, you can provide a selection of cookie cutters for your child to choose from.
Cookie cutters are now available in an enormous range of shapes and sizes. From dinosaurs to dogs, from lions to shooting stars, the only limit is your budget. There is a creative range of gingerbread-men cutters available: look out for the ninja gingerbread men, and the men who have had their arms or legs bitten off! You can buy cutters that emboss the cookies with intricate patterns, and even giant cookie cutters – for a very special Father’s Day treat, perhaps? Cookie cutters are available at cake and baking shops, and online at baking specialists. But they are also widely available on amazon and eBay. Look out for sets such as Gingerbread Family, Christmas, Snowflake, Farm, and Dinosaur. Prices start as low as £2.50, so there’s no reason not to start a collection in readiness for a lifetime of happy baking.
Cut-out Cookies: the very best recipe
This recipe has been ably tested by CakeBaker’s 1 ¾ year-old assistant. It’s extremely forgiving (for plenty of handling) and produces a soft dough that you can cut and transfer to a sheet without trouble. Watch the cookies in the oven carefully, because different sizes and shapes will cook at different rates – the time given is a guideline. You’re aiming for a very pale light gold colour.
- 9oz (250g)plain flour
- 9oz (250g)unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3oz (85g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar
- 3oz (85g) cornflour
- A pinch of salt
Make sure the butter is soft enough to mix into the dough, because you don’t want it to stay in lumps. Measure the butter, flours, salt and sugar into a large bowl and rub together until it forms a soft, malleable dough – which won’t take long.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. If the dough is a bit too soft, refrigerate it for 10-20 minutes until firm enough to roll out. Flour a board (or clean table) and roll out the dough to a finger’s thickness. Now let your child loose with the cutters!
Use a palette knife to transfer the shapes carefully to a baking sheet. The baking sheet must have been greased beforehand. Silicon baking trays are great for kids to use here as they generally find greasing the tins the most tedious part of the job! One tip though, as silicon is ‘floppy’ it’s difficult to carry once you’ve got your dough on it – take the oven rack out before you begin and place the silicon tray on top. That way, you can pick the whole thing up and transfer to the over. Bake for between 10 and 18 minutes, checking frequently. Cool on a wire rack before decorating.
Decorating your Cookies
Tubes of writing icing and sprinkles are great for this job! There is also a wide range shapes (flowers, hearts etc) that you can stick on with a blob of writing icing. For a great taste, mix some glace icing (mix 100g icing sugar with approx 30ml water) and drizzle over your cookies before decorating with shapes of sprinkles.