I might do most of the shopping and cooking around the house, but to set the record straight, that’s simply because I’ve claimed the former activity and I can’t live without the latter. What I mean is that in the ever-vexing division of household labor I have simply staked out for myself the things that are easiest for me. To relax, I need to know I have food in the house—so I shop. To eat well, I need to know how to cook—so I station myself at the stove.
While I do what comes naturally to me, so does Santa Maria. She bakes. And she does it with great skill. Remember that amazing birthday cake? Well, that was no mere one-off. She makes the most delicious lemon-sugar cookies. They’re sweet and tasty, with a bit of a golden crunch on the corner, and an enticingly tart finish on the tongue.
And, just as I have perfected the five-minute meal, she has perfected the weeknight homemade cookie—no small feat for the woman who works and watches the kids. The trick is to make the dough ahead of time, freeze it in a roll, and then slice off a few cookies the night you want to eat them. Pop them in the oven at your convenience, and your dessert will be ready in the time it takes to turn on the TV and pop in a DVD. Trust me, you can do it.
Santa Maria’s Heirloom Lemon Sugar Cookie Recipe
- 4 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup butter (two sticks), softened to room temperature (about 70 degrees)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1teaspon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, mixing the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
Cream the butter in a separate bowl, and then add the sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and the vanilla and lemon extracts.
Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. This may require a strong arm!
Divide into 3-4 portions. Roll each portion into a log, or pat into a flat ball.
Cut the log into 1/3” nickels, place on cookie sheet, then press with your knuckles, sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 10 minutes. I like them just barely golden at the edges.
This dough freezes extremely well and makes a very nice after school treat for kids, or a late night reward for tired moms and dads. Must be accompanied by very cold milk.
It also makes great cut out cookies – hearts for Valentines Day, reindeer for Christmas, eggs for Easter. Sprinkle flour on your counter, then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 1/5 or ¼” thickness (thinner than the roll cookies, because they are bigger). For Valentines Day, it’s a very nice idea to substitute a pale pink glaze for the sugar sprinkled on top.