I grew up in South Africa where Christmas is hot. I don’t mean like a mild 26°C I’m talking 32°C in the shade, ice cream melts in your hand, sweat on your brow hot! Granted South Africa is not nearly as humid as Hong Kong (thank goodness) but Christmas is just different where I’m from. We don’t do turkey, eggnog is replaced by custard over malva pudding and my dad would simply not understand why we’re serving (Yorkshire) pudding with dinner. The only thing that is consistent however is… the cookie. I have very fond memories of my mom baking cookies with us as kids and no summer holiday would be complete without a huge jar of cookies to be eaten whenever you fancied. I was also fortunate enough to grow up with a grandmother who was a wonderful baker in the true “boere tannie” (read farmer’s wife) sense of the word, so they recipes passed on to me by the women in my family are really tried and tested. These recipes are a part of my heritage and a part of my heart and in this season if giving I am very happy to share them with you!
Cut out cookies
These sugar cut-out cookies are my favourite for the season because they are so versatile. You can cut them into any number of shapes and if you wish decorate them with royal icing, candy canes or chocolate. They are also delicious just as is because they contain all the delicious spices I associate with Christmas. The flavour is even better if the dough has rested overnight so try to make it in advance and cut and bake it the next day. So what are waiting for…get baking!
Cut-out sugar cookies
Delicious crisp cookies perfect for Christmas or Valentines Day!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 120 g unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup sugar light brown
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 ml nutmeg
- 5 ml cinnamon
- 5 ml ginger
Sift together flour, baking powder, all the spices and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
In a separate bowl cream together, the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. It is best to do this with an electric mixture if you’re less experienced as this mixture needs to be very light.
Add in the egg and vanilla and mix for another minute or two.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix using a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The dough is ready when it can be shaped into a ball.
Divide the ball into two pieces, wrap them in separate pieces of cling film. Tip: If you slightly flatten them they are easier to roll out later. Let the dough rest for at least 2 hours (overnight if you can).
Preheat the oven to 160°C and prepare a baking sheet by placing parchment or baking paper on the sheet.
Transfer one half of the dough to a floured surface and cover with a floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll out to just over ½ cm in thickness.
Cut out shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheet. As soon as a tray is filled up place it in the oven.
Bake for 12 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.
Eat as is or decorate with royal icing.