December Photo Project day 17 - The promise of something good always comes from a freshly mixed bowl of dough, a rolling pin and a pine tree cookie cutter.
I have officially been placed in charge of cookies. This happened a few years ago when my mother decided that she no longer had the patience for such an undertaking and that it was now my turn in the family line to produce the holiday treats.
My Great Grandmother did it for years and years, I am not sure if my Grandmother ever really got into it or if the flag was passed directly to my mother, but it has now been passed to me. And I also have inherited some of my Great Grandmothers cookie cutters, which is just icing on the, well, on the cookie.
This year I am charged with making about 5 batches - 3 of vanilla, 1 of chocolate and 1 gingerbread spice. These are the cutout cookies - so they take twice as much effort. Baking them and then frosting them. I have decided to bake the cookies this week, a batch or two a day, depending on how long the kids nap. Then Thursday will be the big frosting day.
I made my first batch of vanilla pine trees this afternoon. The dough turned out exceptionally good this time. Other years I have had batches turn out too dry or they have not rolled out well, or they have not baked evenly. This year looks like I am off to a good start. Good dough consistency, excellent rolling, even baking with just a little light brown color on the sides to let you know it is baked through.
One batch makes about 75 cookies, depending on the cutters you are using.
Start with 4 cups of flour and 1 cup vegetable oil. Mix them together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl combine 1 cup sugar and 2 eggs. Mix well and add to flour and oil mixture.
In another separate bowl combine 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Mix well and add to flour and oil mixture.
Stir all ingredients together in large bowl until you get a creamy yellow dough with good consistency. You should just be able to pick it up and shape it into a ball without it totally sticking to your hands. A little sticky is good, but just a little.
Roll out about 1/3rd of the dough on a floured surface. I like to use quite a bit of flour so the dough doesn't stick to the roll out mat. I also put flour on the rolling pin and sprinkle some on top of the dough so the pin does not stick to the dough as I am rolling it out.
Use cookie cutters to make the cookies and transfer them to an ungreased baking sheet. I like to use the airbake sheets.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies are done when there is a light brown color around the edges of the cookie.
Place on cooling racks and make sure they are completely cool before frosting or storing them.
A note on rolling the dough: After the 'first roll' as I like to call it, I gather up the cut pieces, form a new ball without adding any new dough from the bowl, and roll it out again. I can usually get three 'rolls' out of each 1/3rd. The 'second roll' will be more 'flaky' than the first since the flour has been incorporated into the dough. The 'third roll' will be even more flaky. After the 'third roll' I toss any leftover dough since it will no longer roll out without flaking apart.