I remember baking sugar cookies with my Mum when I was younger, my sisters and I delighted by the wide collection of cookie cutters she had assembled (as children, we gravitated towards animal shapes and spelling out our names using alphabet cut-outs). We’d lovingly sprinkle our cookies with coloured sugar, sometimes adding a dollop of icing, and that was that (well, besides consuming the saccharine treats).
Maybe it was my naiveté around how difficult it really was to pull the dough together, or perhaps techniques to ensure the “perfect” sugar cookie have been refined and are now better articulated, but a simple Google search resulted in a barrage of tips of what to do, what not to do, and a list of baking supplies that I would need for this procedure that I did not have. When did a simple sugar cookie become so complicated?
All of this came about in that scramble that always happens the last week before Christmas when I probably took on a little too much. On top of baking for family and a work function, I also wanted to show my appreciation to some of my colleagues with a homemade treat from the kitchen.
Mack wryly joked that these cookies were a multi-day project, and in fact, they were, but only because I realized in the end that I didn’t have the chops to follow through with my original plan (and didn’t have enough time to experiment and learn). I made this recipe for sugar cookies, and with a vision of icing and decorating them on the days following. What I didn’t know was that this would require three different types of icing – two consistencies of royal icing for the base (for piping and filling), and another for decorating. I tried my hand with this recipe for piping, but just couldn’t get the consistency right. And with time ticking down, I ended up with a simple frosting recipe not unlike the one I grew up with, and sprinkled the final product with what else? Coloured sugar.
I know part of the lesson here is that I shouldn’t have assumed I could carry out an ambitious recipe on the eve of Christmas, without attempting anything similar in the months prior. But I think the even bigger lesson is not to mess with tradition, and as long as things are done from the heart, we are being true to the things that are really important this season.