First - start with a great recipe! Hopefully this link will work - this is the No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe. Not only does it taste good, it holds its shape during baking.
Second - make sure to preheat your oven. Your oven needs to be hot to prevent the cookies from spreading.
A couple baking tips - make sure to follow your recipe to the T! Bring all of your ingredients to room temperature before starting to mix your dough. Use unsalted butter and all purpose flour unless other wise stated. Also - you can use any type of extract that you want to, vanilla, maple, peppermint, coconut, lemon - you name it!
Gather your hardware - Cookie sheets, rolling pin, parchment paper, cookie cutters, chilled cookie dough and food coloring and ingredients for your icing (tutorial on decorating and finishing touches coming tomorrow).Make sure to chill your dough for at least 2 hours, preferrably overnight. Then you will need to let it sit out for about 30 minutes so that it will be elastic enough to roll out.
Some people roll their dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper before they refrigerate. I've tried this method and it doesn't work well for me personally. I wish it would, would be much less messy. So, if you can get that to work - go for it!
Your next step is going to be rolling out your dough. I roll directly on my countertop. We have granite countertops so its a smooth surface that is easy to clean.
Cut the cookies out as close together as you can - maximize the effort involved with rolling out the dough!
Make sure to line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. I love parchement paper. It keeps your cookie sheets clean, there by reducing the chance of your cookie sheets rusting and it makes them last longer. It keeps your cookies from sticking and keeps them from getting brown or burnt on the bottoms. I LOVE parchment paper!
I only set my timer for about 6 minutes and then I check them from there and add a minute or 2 if needed. I really don't like my cookies to get overbaked. As soon as they start to look brown on the edges (I mean just barely toasted) I take them out.
YUM! I cannot wait to decorate these. But, its 10:30, I'm tired and so they will get wrapped up and decorated tomorrow. I hope that this has helped you with some of the issues that you have when baking sugar cookies.
For those that have left a comment or anyone that does leave a comment - leave me your email and I'll share another super secret tip to sugar cookies that makes all the difference in the world!! (If you've already left a comment, leave me an email address and I will email it to you!)
This post is linked to "Anti-Procrastination Tuesday's" at New Nostalgia"