Friday, May 27, 2011

Pennsylvania Dutch Soft Sugar Cookies

Pennsylvania Dutch Soft Sugar Cookies - made May 22, 2011 from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri (book #113)

I've baked a few recipes from this book and it's well worth having.  The recipes are varied, the directions straightforward and they generally come out pretty well.  My only "problem" with it is there are so many good-looking recipes in it that I always have a hard time choosing only one at a time to make from it.  I almost made the Orange Dream Cookies from it and plan to get to that one someday but this time around, I went with this recipe to use up the last of my buttermilk.  I've seen variations of this sugar cookie in various recipe books.  Because of the ingredients list, I was expecting something soft and cakelike.  Sure enough, even the dough was more like a stiff cake batter or a very soft cookie dough.  I chilled the whole thing in the fridge first before I even scooped them into dough balls for the freezer.  Otherwise I think they would've been too soft to hold a round shape.

I made up the cookie dough last Sunday before I went back to work so I had the dough balls ready in the freezer to be baked at a moment's notice whenever I felt like it.  Normally I don't really like cakey cookies.  I've said before, if I wanted cakey, I'd make a cake, not cookies.  But I have to admit, these weren't bad.  I'd classify them more as a cake in cookie form than my idea of a real cookie but they were pretty tasty.  Like little vanilla cakes rather than sugar cookies.  They don't spread much but they do puff out.  Do not overbake these and err on the side of underbaking them.  Otherwise they'll easily become dry.  They're not that sweet and since they're cakey, they'd probably be pretty good frosted.  Top with your favorite vanilla frosting or any other type of frosting and eat the same day you bake them. Treat them like cakes and assume they'll dry easily if left too long.

You can see how cakey it is on the inside

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

1.      Set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375⁰F.
2.      In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir well to mix.
3.      In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the sugar until combined, then beat in the vanilla.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.  Lower the speed and beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk, and another third of the flour mixture.  Scrape the bowl and beater often.  Beat in the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining flour mixture.
4.      Scrape the bowl and beater, then remove the bowl from the mixer, and give the dough one final mixing with the large rubber spatula.
5.      Drop tablespoons of the dough 3 or 4 inches apart onto the prepared pans.
6.      Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until they spread and rise – they should be lightly golden.
7.      Slide the papers off the pans onto racks.
8.      After the cookies have cooled, detach them from the paper and store them between layers of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.


  1. My grandparents were both PA Dutch - my uncle wrote one of the first PA Dutch cookbooks. These cookies were always rolled out on a floured surface to ¼" in thickness. The dough had to be cold at all times. I never saw them decorated. PA Dutch desserts were quite bland - fastnauchts, shoo fly pie, dumplings - not very sweet at all.

  2. I didn't have buttermilk, so I substituted 1T white vinegar in 1C whole milk and let it sit for 10 minutes. The cookies came out quite good. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Sounds like exactly the right substitution - glad it turned out!