That’s the way the cookie crumbles… NOT: Tips for making cutout cookies.

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Can I share a cool, exciting, and a bit embarrassing moment with you?

I know, you’re mostly tuning in for for the embarrassing part, but this isn’t the story about when I walked through a graduation party with the back of my skirt stuck in the back of my panties, or the time I got my teacup confused with a finger bowl at Benihana (both true, by the way); but more about not knowing how to gracefully deal with being  considered “famous.”

A couple of weeks ago, I was working at the Baking Education Center as Jeff Hamelman’s assistant in a professional baker’s class. Geographically speaking, the BEC is across the parking lot from our retail store, and it’s not uncommon for folks to peek in to find out what’s in the building, or to see the classroom. So, when a nice smiling lady showed up in the back of the room, I left off doing dishes (AH, the glamor) and went to see if I could help her out or answer any questions.

She was very curious about the classroom and our schedule, and wanted to return with several friends to take a class together. The bakers were busily shaping loaves, so she and I had a very pleasant little chat about baking and all things KAF. She asked how long I’d been working here, and about my job. When I got to the part about being the cookie decorator for the catalogue, she gave a squeal of excitement and promptly pulled out a camera and asked to take my picture.

I was a quite surprised and yes, a little embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken plenty of photos for students during classes and have posed with students after class so they can take pictures for their scrapbooks to remember the class by, but I’ve never had someone want to take my picture over cookies.

I’ve never been a big fan of having my picture taken, and avoided it for many years. One day I ran across an article about a woman who felt the same way until her own mother passed away. When looking through family photos, she noticed just how few of them her mother was in, and realized how sad she felt about that. “I’m robbing my family of memories,” was her epiphany; and I’ve embraced that philosophy regarding my own family photos.

This dear lady wanted to be able to show me off to her friends, and say that she’d met the gal who made the beautiful cookies. It was very sweet, and of course I said yes. I hope her picture does come out and that I didn’t look too grubby after having my head in the sink all morning.

When I was at home that evening talking with my husband, David, I said it was hard for me and I didn’t quite know what to do when something like this happened. I’m the last person in the world to think I’m anything special. I have the self esteem of a banana slug sometimes. On my last performance review I crossed out the word “outstanding” and wrote in “pretty darn good.” So, how does one come to terms with being admired for one’s skills?

Hopefully gracefully. I could hem and haw and hide behind a towel, making the meeting awkward for myself and for my visitor. Or just dig deep, man up, and smile for the camera, being thankful that a small talent I have makes people happy.

It tickles me pink when people leave comments for me, or say they’re fans. I think of you as friends, some I’ve met and some I haven’t met yet. Your comments keep me energized and enthused about baking, and drive me on to find new, fun, delicious, zany, beautiful recipes to share. You rock my world!

If you think any of this goes to my head, rest easy. I’m still in awe of my test kitchen buddies. They’ve probably forgotten more baking info than I’ll ever know, and I’m really lucky to be able to work with them.

So, give me a shout if you’re in the area, I’d love to make a new friend. Until then, let’s share a few tips and tricks about making your cutout cookies they best that they can be. And remember, while I can make some pretty darn good-looking cookies, I can’t make good meatloaf to save my soul – and that makes me a humble gal every time!

What’s the first step towards cutting out perfect cookies? A well chilled dough including a minimum of leavener (baking powder or baking soda). My favorite recipe is our Holiday Butter Cookies.  It has no leavener at all, so the cookies bake up thin and crisp and keep their shape.

Don’t skimp on the chill time either; warm dough is not the way to go, as it won’t hold its shape well. Refrigerate the portion of dough you aren’t using to prevent it from getting warm and dried out.

When rolling the dough, be sure to occasionally lift it to ensure that it isn’t sticking to your work surface. Dust more flour underneath if needed, and use a well floured pin. I like our silicone handled pin a lot. It has the right heft, and the ball bearings roll like a dream.

When you’re ready to cut your shapes, don’t be shy about really flouring your cutter well. I like to have a pile of flour on the work surface that I can keep dipping the cutter into. I’ve recently heard about dipping the cutter in cooking oil instead of flour, but haven’t given it a try yet. Anyone out there use that method? I’d love to hear your results.

Before you begin cutting, plan out where you’ll place the cutter to make the most of your dough space. The less scraps between cuts, the better. If you do need to re-roll scraps, be sure to chill the dough again for best results.

Press the cutter down firmly over all of the edges, paying special attention to the nooks, crannies, and detailed areas.

When you remove the cutter from the dough, it’s helpful to use a small tool such as a dowel or chopstick to press on the more detailed parts of the cutter to help release the dough. For this lizard, the feet and the tail can be tricky so I paid those areas a little extra attention.

Darn. Even the best laid plans don’t always work out and sometimes you lose a part of the cookie. While some lizards can re-grow body parts, I don’t think that’s going to happen here, so we’re going to need to make some repairs.

First, we need to find the missing foot. Use a small butter knife or other narrow, thin spatula to remove the small piece from the rest of the dough.

Place the broken pieces together and gently press with your fingers to bind them together again. If the edges have dried out a bit, just a drop of water on your fingertip will solve the problem.

When baked, the patch is hardly noticeable. Once iced, your guests will never know the difference.

When baking, be sure to place your cookies on cool baking sheets. Warm sheets will cause your cookies to spread more, and you may lose detail.

The patch is strong enough to not break off when the cookie is handled. This technique works great for small breaks and tears. For larger breaks, such as a missing head, you would need to re-cut the cookie for best results.

Another great way to avoid losing detailed parts of your cookies is to cut directly on parchment paper and pull the excess dough away from the design in small pieces. Depending on the size of your cutter, it can be a faster way to go with no worries about transferring from the work surface to the baking surface.

Another common issue is an uneven or cracked surface on the cookies, especially if they’re not going to be iced or decorated. To avoid having your dough crack, be sure you don’t add too much flour. Dry dough will crack more readily.

Roll the dough from the center to the edges, and be careful that you don’t run the pin off the edge of the dough and flatten the edges too much. Running a hand lightly across the rolled-out dough will help you feel any bumps or divots, too.

Sometimes you get cracks or rough spots and just can’t get them completely out of the dough. What next?

One easy fix is to dimple the surface of the dough on purpose. Use the rounded end of a dowel or chopstick and press gently into the dough to create an impression.

Cover the entire cookie, and any cracks or unevenness will just become part of the design rather then showing up as an error. Aren’t you clever now with your spotted gecko?

I know, you’ve always been clever, that’s one thing I like about you. I hope these tips help you on your cookie journey and oh yeah, when someone asks to snap your picture, just say “Cookies!”.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Audrey

    I love to make rolled/cookie cutter cookies and these are all great tips – thank you! But in a shameless and self-induced plug for the wonders of the Baker’s Catalog, when I got your nonstick piecrust rolling mat, I started using it to roll out cookie dough too, and it’s an amazing tool for that. No sticking ever, not too much flour needed, and it’s an AMAZING tool for that purpose! (I’ve still never made piecrust, though…sigh.)
    Thanks for sharing your secrets too Audrey. I have used the rolling mat for cookies, but you need to be very careful when cutting with metal cookie cutters. If you press too hard, you can cut the mat’s surface. :(. I guess I tend to be too heavy handed for the mat, so I generally use parchment or countertop. Thanks again!@ ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Trisha

    But how do I get the cookie from the counter to the baking sheet without it looking askew?
    Hi Trisha,
    I’m a big fan of thin flexible spatulas for moving cookies.
    I have several of these, and flouring them helps everything slide smoothly. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Wei-Wei

    Hahaha the spotted gecko is genius! I’ve never made cutout cookies before (too gimmicky for me!) but these are great tips to keep in mind. Thanks! :)

    Wei-Wei

    Reply
  4. Courtney

    Love your blog! I have a sugar cookie recipe from my Auntie that is the best I have ever used. The secret? You use powdered confectioner’s sugar for the rolling out of dough instead of flour. Your dough never gets tough if slightly overworked (a must when little helping toddler hands are present) and no floury tasting cookies. Just tender cookie goodness.
    HI Courtney,
    I have a similar recipe, and I love it for it’s texture and workability. My recipe does have leavens, so it puffs more but still makes great cookies. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

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  5. Sharl

    Really cute cookies.

    But, what is a “banana slug”? lol
    Dude, banana slugs are nasty! Like regular slugs, but much much larger. I saw my first one in Oregon and thought it was a snake! Try a Google search for pictures if you dare, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya! ~ MaryJane

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  6. Fran in VA

    Great blog! Love the cookies – - oh so cute! What type of icing did you use? How did you decorate them????
    Hi Fran,
    The cookies are done in the same way as my holiday cookies here, and the Easter cookies here.
    Just different colors and designs. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Aleda Koepke

    I have always hated to make cut out cookies because of all the problems. Now I know it’s because I didn’t chill the dough.
    thanks a bunch!
    Aleda

    Reply
  8. Eliza

    That little paw left behind in the dough is the funniest thing i’ve ever seen :-) *Darn*

    Great article, congratulations from your fan in Romania,
    Eliza
    There were lots of “need a hand?” jokes in the kitchen then too Eliza. :). ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Linda Roberts

    Thanks so much for the tips and the recipe. I”ve never had much luck with cutout cookies either, but I”m willing to try again. Do love your products!

    Reply
  10. Nancy Sullivan

    The cookies are adorable, and I love your tips. I use a different method which works quite well for me. I roll soft dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and chill in the fridge in stacks until quite firm. Then peel off the top sheet, replace and invert, then peel off the bottom sheet and cut out cookies. Since I live in Texas, it is frequently warm in the kitchen and this ensures a cold, stiff dough. I use the same technique for pie dough- works great, just don’t chill as long so you can mold it to the pie tin! I’d love a second posting on frosting tips- I sometimes have issues with royal icing not setting up properly, and yours is so shiny and un-bubbly…
    HI Nancy,
    Thanks for the great warm weather cookie tips. I usually turn on every fan in the house if I’m baking in hot weather, but that’s not so often in VT as TX!
    For the cookie icing tips, you’ll find more blogs about cookie decorating here and here. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. marilyn

    Generally, the dough is chilled before rolling. However, it becomes soft when I roll it. So generally, I stick the rolled sheets of dough back into the regrigerator to re-chill. I remove them as I roll them. Then the dough separates easily from the shape, and the cut piece can be moved without becoming twisted or breaking.
    It’s so great when everyone chimes in with their own tips. LOVE this community! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. Nola Piper

    Great tips, now how about a lesson on frosting them? I never seem to get the right consistency so it dries properly with the pretty gloss shown in your pictures!
    Nola
    Hi Nola,
    We’ve done a couple of blogs on cookie decorating, try looking here. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. KATHERINE

    I roll the chilled dough on parchment paper. Once I cut out the design, I leave cookie and extra surrounding dough intact and slide the sheet of parchment to the back side of a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for just a few minutes. Then, you can pick up the cookies so easily and place them on the baking sheet for baking. No more disfigured cookies – all exactly the shape you intended and wanted.
    Katherine

    Reply
  14. Kari

    I can relate to all you said. I love surrounding myself with knowledgeable people, but it can reduce one’s self esteem…! Thank you for this encouraging post and your beautiful cookies.
    I love my test kitchen teammates too they are always so encouraging, funny, sympathetic, and helpful. I’m one lucky slug :lol:

    Reply
  15. Elisabeth

    I have always been drawn to cut-out cookies, since I was a girl and used to make gingerbread families for friends for Christmas — now those were fun! Decorated to match the people they were gifts for. And thenwhen I had my own daycare, the kids LOVE decorating cookie and then eating them afterward or saving them carefully to show Mom. I never used fancy shapes like these charming geckos, just bells and hearts and flowers, and very simple men. Now I am itching to dig out my frosting set and do some more!
    Girl, we are two peas in a pod! I used to make cookies for the summer swim program picnic, little boy and girl cookies with icing bathing suits that matched the kid’s suits! Break out the piping bags and have a great day!
    ~ MaryJane

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  16. Mary

    I don’t know if I’ll ever make these cutout cookies or not but what I do know is this; I’ll continue to read these blogs, I’ll continue to pass them on and feel like I’ve spent a few minutes with a friend. This is a perfect example of why I come back to this web site time and time again. It’s genuine! The people, the products the advice. Nothing pretentious, nothing put on. I never feel like you’re pitching for a sale. I know you’re selling, I know about bottom line because I own a business. But it just feels like the business of this company is genuine good service from genuinely outstanding folks.
    Yes my friend, you ARE outstanding!!!!Thank you. That is what we strive for. Mary@KAF
    I’d love to have you over for meatloaf one day, so if you’re ever in NJ…..
    Mary, you are sweeter than buttercream! I would love to get together for meatloaf, as long I’m not the one making it. I’ll bring the mashed potatoes and gravy and we’ll get a cake from Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken. I LOVE Buddy and always wanted to try his cakes. Now, I just have to Halley to pay for my trip, let’s consider it a “research junket”. :)
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. Casey

    Well, Hello _________
    I know your husband’s name is David and that you work with Jeff
    and you’re the genius behind the fabulously decorated cookies on the website and in the catalog. I also know some of your more embarrassing moments and that you’re learning to gracefully accept compliments and fame. But I don’t know who you are :-) I do know that I am a fan – of both your clever tips for cut out cookies and your creative decorating but also for your witty writing style.

    With sincere appreciation,
    Casey -
    at home in the North Georgia Mtns and catching up with my favorite website.

    HI Casey,
    Glad you are catching up on past blogs. I’m MaryJane, I’ve been with King Arthur for nearly 5 years now, and writing blogs for about 2 1/2 years now. You can catch up on my antics starting here. More fun stories about my dear hubby David (including his secret BBQ sauce recipe), my beautiful, fantastic teen daughter Shannon (follow the ever changing hair colors) and our crazy, baking filled lives. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the blog as much as I enjoyed writing it.
    ~ MaryJane

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  18. Claire

    You may not think you are extraordinary, but I sure do!! And being humble and modest about your talents is part of that. Your writing skills are right up there with your wonderful icing and baking talents, too!
    Thanks for always making this site a great place to visit. How I long for the day I can go visit in person!
    Love your recipes, your hints, your tips, and YOU!!
    Oh Claire, it’s good no one has a camera right now, I’d be bright red in the pics! Thanks for such nice words. I still think PJ, Sue, Susan, Andrea and I, plus future new bloggers Frank and Irene should host a “meet and greet”. I’m thinking we should go somewhere warm and sunny. Any ideas? ~ MaryJane

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  19. Mary Miller

    Thanks for the cookie tips! By the way, I too have left the back of my skirt in my panties – on an airplane. Of course, I walked back to my forward seat from the rear; smoothing my skirt to sit was a real surprise! :)
    I bet you are like me nowadays, double checking EVERYTHING before you leave the ladies room! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Erin R.

    HA! Oh, god bless you, I avoid being in photos all the time because I inevitably look like room temperature poo. Maybe it’s time for me to man up, too.

    My husband can eat his weight in crunchy cookies with the frosting that hardens. For some reason his favorite one I ever made him was a round one with a big frowny face in blue frosting. (grin) Maybe I’ll surprise him this weekend with a small batch. Excellent advice about the chilled dough and the cool cookie sheets, too. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Hi Erin,
    I know, I still don’t like the way I look in the photos, but down the road when I am gone and my family is looking at the pictures, I’m hoping that love will cloud their eyes and I’ll look better. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. Cathleen

    Cutouts are replacing the fancy sheet cakes. I baked and decorated a couple dozen T-Shirt shaped cookies instead of the grocery store sheet cake for a graduation party. They were so much more fun and easier to handle for party guests. With so many cookie cutter options, they are a hit at any party.

    Reply
  22. Linda

    I love your products and the lizard and cactus cookie cutter are just too cute. (oh boy two new ones)

    I live in Arizona and I have a terrible time making cut out cookies in the heat.

    I chill the dough, the cookie sheets, the cookies after they are cut before they go in the oven. I chill everything and they just spread.

    I have tried multiple recipes.

    I have come to the conclusion that I may not be able to make cookies about 8 months of the year. It must be a recipe problem because I have tried everything else.

    Any suggestions!!!

    Please help.

    Thanks. You might try using a house brand of butter. The fat content seems a bit less in those. Also try cutting back on the sugar by 1 or 2 tablespoons. Both of these items contribute to the spread of cookies. And keep on chilling. I hope these tips help. Mary@KAF

    Reply
  23. Paul from Ohio

    MJ, since no one else has posted in response to the ‘big message’ at the beginning of your blog post, let me do so. From my communication with you I can’t imagine you as a shy retiring type. And when I/we do meet you I am most hopeful that I can snap a photo or two and even have one with the two of us together. I don’t care if your hands have been in the sink or in dough/flour or whatever. It’s you and your happy wonderful talent and ability to express your delight in what you do that makes me and so many of us really smile when we see your name attached to a Blog entry (not excluding any of the others I ‘follow, just recognizing you here!).

    You and the folks at KAF have had a decidedly profound effect on my enjoyment of retired life, giving me the tools, knowledge, great help and encouragement with things I love to bake – and (yummy yummy) eat!

    Take good care……..still no date affixed to our trip your way, but it will be decided soonest.

    ps – I would also acknowledge the fact that our children family and friends ‘deserve’ to have photos of us…..after we’re gone. Not too many with me in them as an adult, but hey! Life!
    Oh my goodness, I’m snifflin’ into my smoothie! What nice things you’ve said Paul. When we do get together, let’s take a BUNCH of photos full of family, friends, furry critters and food, food, food! Then you can have some, I can have some, and we’ll post a bunch here too. Talk to you soon! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  24. KateP

    Hey, MJ: love the cookies; but I’m a California girl & can’t let the Banana Slug comments pass without making sure you know that Univ. of Calif (UC) Santa Cruz’s mascot is the Banana Slug – too cool! Maybe another cookie cutter in the offing?
    I did know about Sammy the Slug, and must admit the costume is pretty darn cute, but in person they just aren’t so cuddly. Be sure to send me pictures if you make slug cookies! ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  25. Diane from L.A.

    I just got my KAF catalog yesterday and fell in love with the couldn’t believe you made all those cactus and lizard cookies with only two cookie cutters. The variety and detail in your icing decorating is fantastic. Love it!
    My secret to designing? I take the cookie cutters and trace them several times on paper (lifted from the recycle bin) and doodle different designs while working at my desk or talking on the phone. That way, I can weed out the designs that just don’t work before I even get to the kitchen. Give it a try! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  26. Rebecca

    Those are adorable! Is the recipe for the icing you used on the site? I can’t wait for the holidays and the excuse to try these out! Thanks for all the tips!
    Hi Rebecca,
    Yes, it’s our Royal Icing recipe from the website.

    Reply
  27. Shelley

    Every December I make gingersnap snowflake cookies with diamond cutouts inside each point (they look great iced.) I’ve learned to cut them out, transfer to the cookie sheet, THEN cut the little diamonds, and then refrigerate them on the cookie sheet for half an hour before baking to keep all those little points sharp.

    Reply
  28. Barbara McIver

    MaryJane-
    I appreciate your intelligence, modesty and good humor. Thank you for sharing techniques so generously. Shout out for the banana slug: The official mascot of University of California Santa Cruz!
    Barbara
    Thanks Barbara. Go Sammy, go Sammy! :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  29. Angela P

    Any tips on how (or what type of dough to use) to have cut-out cookies keep their shape? My Christmas butter cookies always spread and never keep their sharp lines :(
    Our Holiday Butter cookie recipe is my go to recipe for all cut out cookies. They don’t spread and don’t puff, and even detailed cut outs come out perfect. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  30. Jarrett

    Dear MaryJane –
    I’ve been impressed by the fabulously decorated cookies in the KAF catalog for a long time. It’s nice to meet the talent behind them.
    Alas, I make a better meatloaf than cookies, but I’m working on improving. (My secret to a great meatloaf is to put half the meat mixture in the pan, place a row of large mushroom caps down the center, and them pat the remaining meatloaf mixture over the top. It keeps the meatloaf juicy and each slice has a mushroom center.) Now I’m off to check out your decorating tips. Thanks!
    Ooooh, thanks for the mushroom tip. I did try a new meatloaf recipe a couple of weeks ago that you actually coated in flour before baking, to give it a crisp outer crust, which is something David loves, but it didn’t work so well. My search continues… ~ MaryJane

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  31. Mother of Pearl

    Okay, confession time. I can bake all sorts of things reasonably well, but cut out cookies flop for me every time! A regular thorn in my baking side. I gave up on them years ago. I may have to try again now that I have your tips. Thanks!

    I hope you do give them a try. Start with a small batch and simple shapes and you’ll be on your way.

    p.s. I had to giggle at your screen name. My dad was a Marine, and we learned some *ahem* colorful language as kids. Nowadays when I stub my toe or drop a dish I yell out “Mother.. of Pearl”! Thanks for the smile. :D ~ MaryJane

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  32. Bakergirl29

    I absolutely love this blog and all the helpful hints!! For butter cookie and delicate cookie dough, i roll out the dough on parchment and use the cookie cutter to cut the shapes about 2 or 3 inches apart and remove the scaps of dough and leave the shaped cookie intact! the extra dough around the shape can be removed in pieces since i will roll it back together again anyway.. i just slide the parchment onto the tray and bake. i dont ever touch the cutout cookies until they come out of the oven.
    Thanks for sharing your tips too! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  33. Cyn

    Enjoyed the tips for cutout cookies! Very enjoyable to read, and useful.

    I must be honest, though, about the seeming modesty you note about having your picture taken, being recognized, etc. I’m not sure that’s modesty at all. I work with people who are the same way — but saying things such as “Oh, golly gee, I don’t know how to deal with people recognizing little ol’ me” can actually sound like bragging. Why not just be honest, graciously thank people for recognizing you, and then don’t say anything else about the situation? That is REAL modesty. In other words, I’m not sure why you felt the need to post anything here other than the very helpful cutout cookie suggestions. However unintended, I did read this blog entry as backhanded bragging.
    Cyn, I’m really sorry you felt that way. Those who know me know that I have a hard time accepting praise and that I really do hem and haw when encountering such situations. I hoped by sharing this with others who may have the same issues that we could continue to build our relationships and friendships here on the KAF community. I’m truly sorry if you were unhappy with the post. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  34. AJ

    All I had to do was glance at the picture and I knew we were in for a Mary
    Jane post! You always have such lovely ideas and handy tips. I know how you feel about having your picture take-it’s one of my “phobias” too.
    I look terrible (to myself) but I’ve found I can except “action” photos better than posed shots. I’m going to get a chance to watch a Pysanky
    class-my hands are a shape now that I can’t handle actually doing it.
    I got interested because of you-another idbit for people to know about you!
    Oh, lucky you AJ! I’ve never actually been to a Pysanky class but I’d love to go! I was all set to go to a 4 day retreat one year, but then both David’s car and my car died the week before Christmas. There went my vacation fund! I’m sure I’ll get the chance someday. Have a great time! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  35. Gwen

    You almost inspire me to make cute cookies again, they are adorable… it’s just that drop cookies are so much easier and quicker gratification :-D

    About that meatloaf issue – I tried for years to come up with something better than “eh” meatloaf, adding all kinds of interesting things. You know when I finally got meatloaf so good I’ll serve it to company? when I stopped being fancy and went back to the basics. I suspect you have plenty of recipes to try but if you want another just let me know… now if I could just master pizza, no idea why I have issues but it just won’t come out the way I want…
    I’d love to have more meatloaf recipes, thanks Gwen. Just drop me a line at maryjane.robbins@kingarthurflour.com. You’re right, I’ve tried fancy and I’ve tried basic, but something just eludes me.
    For pizza dough, try this one here.

    Reply
  36. Leslie Limon

    Oh my! Those cookie cutters are just the cutest thing. And the finished cookies look divine! They would look so cute in my kitchen, down here in Mexico. :)

    This is another recipe that I will be adding to my “To Bake” file. And hopefully, I’ll work up enough courage to try my hand at decorating.
    Just dive right in Leslie. It really can be so easy and it’s definitely addicting. “Oh wait, what if I try this… and this… and this…” ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  37. Tammy from WA

    Very nice, MaryJane!
    I really enjoyed your comments and tips for the cookies. They always look so professional, and now I know why! I look forward to visiting KAF someday and hope to meet you there too. Until then, thanks for keeping us baking fans in the loop…its nice to know there are friends with this such passion out there! Here’s to “chilling and flouring and parchment paper” !!!
    HI Tammy,
    I do hope you get to make the trip out here someday. I was in your neck of the woods many, many years ago and it was so beautiful, I’d love to go back. My bucket list is so long now, I’ll never die! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  38. Donna Crocker

    Very cute story and loved the tips about cut out cookies. Have never tried them because of the hassle. But this may change my mind.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  39. Kari

    Thanks for all the cookie tips! If I wasn’t way out here in banana slug land I’d drop in for a visit! They are pretty shocking to see in person. Luckily they hang out in the woods and not so much in suburb-ville!
    Keep up the good work, and just know we all love ya!
    Hi Kari,
    I’m shivering in my seat because when I read “they hang out in the woods” I got a mental picture of banana slugs hanging from the trees like Spanish moss. Ewww, ewww, ewww! My neck feels itchy just thinking about it.
    Thanks for the love though, and right back at ya! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  40. hddonna

    Great cookie baking tips, but I want to respond to Casey’s comment above: “I don’t know who you are.” I’ve long been meaning to ask about this. When I click over from the RSS on my home page, the post does not have the author’s name under the title. I discovered that if I click on the Baker’s Banter logo, it then comes up with the author’s name. I’ve begun to know you all well enough to recognize who must have written a post before I do that, but it seems odd that the name doesn’t always come up.
    I didn’t know that about the name Donna, thanks for telling us. I’ll pass this along to the computer gurus and see if they have any info to pass along. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  41. Janet

    I loved reading your post. Such modesty when acclaim is so richly deserved is very sweet to hear. Bravo, you!

    Thank you for the wonderful tips. I’m making cutout cookies this weekend for a child’s 3rd birthday around the Charlotte’s Web storybook theme. Wish me luck! Thankfully, with your tips I won’t need as much. :)

    Best wishes for continued success!

    Reply
  42. Bonnie

    My sister and I host an annual all-day holiday bake-a-thon, and the cut-out cookie is the great equalizer…we have artists from 3 to 76 years and EVERYbody gets into the decorating. And I mean they get into it—there’s flour everywhere, including the dog’s head. We’re still vacuuming up sprinkles after the new year. But that’s part of the fun! One of the most poignant moments was when I saw an older niece with a young cousin showing how to roll out the dough. “Not too thick, not too thin,” I heard her say. We figured out this is a five-generation tradition. My grandmother started it, and we still use her cookie cutters.

    Thank you Bonnie. I would adore having a big bake-a-thon like that. I’ve always wanted to host a Christmas in July cookie swap too. Right now, I’m the only one who likes to decorate cookies so my cookie fest involves me, my cookie supplies and a bunch of good old movies and radio podcasts. Anyone up for Christmas cookies and a JAWS marathon? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  43. Bonnie

    Heck yeah! I saw a shark cookie cutter the other day at a little cake supplies store here in Houston. duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn, duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn…..

    Reply
  44. Lucy

    I just had to post after reading the many comments. Let me add my tips, learned in my goal to be as good as you when i grow up. I actually use dowels the measure of the thickness i want the cookies to be and roll my pin your way from center out and again, center to the other direction. keeps it even every time. I also like a recipe i found on the kitchengifts website: uses 6 c flour, 2 c un/s butter and 2 c sugar for porportion. I also combine flavors: almond&vanilla; vanilla&orange oil; cinnamon&orange oils; almond,orange&vanilla. they are all great! I also put the sugar in my Cuisinart, pulse several times then run it for a minute to make my own super fine sugar which seems to mix in more quickly and evenly w/butter. But i have a terrible time with the really intricate cutters and wonder if thick is better than thinner? you make so many incredibly wonderful cookies and they don’t look really thin so i haven’t figured out what to do about that yet. i want to be good even w/detailed cutters. As for everything else, you keep on being you. You are a joy to everyone in your life, i guarantee that and you don’t even know me. You are an artist, an actual true artist and you can be as tempermental as you want…or as not as you want. You get to be the best person God made you to be, with so much talent and creativity that it makes a bunch of us who are also accomplished bakers just bow down to your expertise. You have my vote for Cooky Lady of the Century. Heck, i’m divorced and think you are blessed to have a husband who clearly loves you!!! Thank you for blessing us by sharing your expertise so often.
    Thanks for your sweet and encouraging comments Lucy. Now, for the cookie business. When I bake cookies with lots of detail, I do go a bit thicker than thinner. I also make sure I give myself plenty of time. I tend to be impatient, so I make myself slow down and take good care when cutting and moving the cookies. Lots of readers have commented that they cut the detailed cookies right on the parchment so that they don’t have to move them, and it really is a great hint, and a must for really intricate cookies like snowflakes. Know that some of the cookies aren’t going to be as perfect as others, so always make extras. I hope this helps. Don’t ever hesitate to contact me or the bakers here if you have more questions. We LOVE to help! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  45. liz

    bakers with disabilities (like me) tend to stay away from rolled cookies because you truly do need 2 good hands to manage tricky cut-outs like those adorable lizards….the good news is, that if you have a rolled cookie recipe thats tastes wonderful (like my grandmother’s sand tarts), you can still enjoy them….i roll out the dough on parchment, chill it, then cut it into squares or diamonds and bake….no waste, no re-rolling, and far less cussing. The cookies may not look fancy, but they taste as good as ever.

    we have a family that designs and makes cookie cutters right here in our town…they have a small retail showroom and the walls are just covered with cutters….they have dozens (maybe hundreds) of designs that i’d love to try so it’s probably just as well that i can’t do many rolled cookies….i would spend all my time on that and eat all my baking and weigh a ton!

    thanks to the KAF gang and all the bakers who blog for the many tips and ideas…..i intend to try those holiday butter cookies!

    Reply
  46. Lucy

    Perhaps Liz could share the address of the cooky-cutter making family’s store. Many of us would love to find unique cutters and support family businesses…..maybe KAF could even sell some of them sometime. I am sure we all know that KAF buys products from outside vendors. The networking options are wonderful.

    Reply
  47. kitchen tables

    Every time I make cookies even those regular shaped cookies, they always crumble! It is always so frustrating for me.
    Please call our baker’s hot line so we can help you with your cookies. JMD@KAF

    Reply
  48. Pam Silver Spring, MD

    Good tips but what resonated with me is disliking being photographed. I always have the camera and although we have pictures of most family events, almost none include me. I made the comment that it looks likeI wasn’t there and now one of my sons grabs the camera and makes sure that I’m in at least one picture of every event. Love the blog, love the products and need to get into the kitchen and make something for Father’s Day!

    I have a friend going to Vermont to take one of your classes. I am so jealous!

    Reply
  49. Anna

    I always end up losing bits and pieces off my cookies, so I’m very well acquainted with the “patch job”, but I like your dimpling method! It won’t work for everything, but it’s still a fantastic suggestion. Spoons and martini glasses are the very worst to cut out because they have thin and long parts that always always break. I have started using a little offset spatula to loosen the cookies from the table and then transfer them to the cookie sheet. I also pop the whole sheet into the freezer for a few minutes before baking. That helps to prevent spreading especially when I take too long to cut out and fill up a sheet.

    As for being camera shy, I like your story. I don’t know if I’ll pose for pictures more after it, but it certainly gives me a new perspective on things.

    Reply
  50. paulamcconnell

    Mary Jane –

    Great tips and I will try them all. What do you recommend for gluten-free sugar cookies? I have not yet found a recipe or method that does a “pretty darn good” job for roll-out sugar cookies.

    Your gluten-free fan,
    Paula
    Hi Paula,
    I haven’t done a lot of GF baking from scratch, but I know our recipe for roll-out cookies using our GF cookie mix is terrific. Check out this GF cookie blog and see all the things you can do with it. Hope it helps. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  51. Natasha Rodricks-Naidu

    Mary Jane, dearest Mary Jane.
    How lovely to find you, your generous advice and suggestions from your followers.
    I kneaded biscuit dough last night, refrigerated it and began rolling out the cookies for my 4 yr old daughter to take to school. It was rock hard. I was afraid it would NEVER roll but after I handshaped 3/4th of the dough, I gave the rolling a atry. It worked.
    I wonder if I should have kneaded the dough more so it didn’t look crumbly before I began rolling it out.
    Gotto try your recipe over the weekend and correct the wrongs I’ve been making.
    xxx
    Natasha
    Welcome Natasha! I’m so glad you are finding the cookie blogs and recipes helpful. As you go along on your journey, you can know that any and every mistake you ever make is one I’ve made too, so never give up and never hesitate to come to KAF and ask questions. Happy baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  52. joyzlu

    MaryJane
    I’m going to try your recipe posted; but in the meantime, I made some sugar cookies last night (two separate recipes), 1/4″ thick. Rolled between parchment, chilled at least 1 hour, cut out cookies, re-chilled 1 hour, then baked. 1) They spread so much. 2) The cookies were so soft and broke wherever there was not royal icing. All of my pretty round cookies looked like my little ones had taken bites out of them. It was funny and pitiful at the same time. Each recipe has leaveners. Could this be my problem? Also, how thick do you recommend making cookies? Is 1/4″ too thick? Thank you so much!!
    It could be a leavener issue, or a fat issue if they were very soft. Did they use AP flour? Cake flour is not great for roll out cookies, just not enough structure. I like my cookies at least 1/4″ thick, slightly thicker for more detailed cutters. Definitely give this recipe a try though, I’ve used it successfully for YEARS! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  53. toni521

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. I’ve made sugar cookies in the past with mixed results, so I’ll try your recipe and your tips and see how it goes.
    Meanwhile–I have a KILLER meatloaf recipe if you’d like it, LOL…easy, tasty and passed down from my dear departed mom. Contact me at toni@tomntoni.com for the recipe!
    –Toni in Milwaukee

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Cut out cookies are generally more fragile as they are rolled thin and baked crisp to make them easy to move and decorate. Try cutting them a little thicker if you have trouble with breakage. ~ MJ

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