When I designed my first cookie cutters, the intention was only to be for my personal use. After I made my first Easter cookies using my cutters, I realized that there were probably other families who would like to have cookie cutters that they felt were more relevant to liturgical living than what’s readily available at most big box stores. That’s when I decided to make them available for purchase in my Salem Studio shops.
I do know that I have a lot of practice in baking that most people probably don’t have just because it’s a passion of mine. Knowing that, I wanted to make sure that if people did decide that they liked my cookie cutters, they felt like they had all of the information they needed to use the cutters with minimal frustration and maximum success. Since my background is in education, it only makes sense that I would put together a little “how-to” for your reading pleasure.
For this tutorial, I’m using the cookie dough recipe that I have posted as a PDF in the FAQs section and that I’ve written a previous post about. It’s reliable and easy to work with.
The essential items for rolling the dough are your rolling pin, a nice area of counter space for working, cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, a sifter and powdered sugar. Lots and lots and lots of powdered sugar. I know, you’re thinking “Powdered sugar!?!? All the other 3D printed cookie cutters I’ve seen say ‘Use plenty of flour’.” I just can’t do it. The more flour that is incorporated into the cookies, the tougher they’ll get. I’ve been rolling all my sugar cookies out in powdered sugar for years. If they’re chocolate sugar cookies, I roll them in cocoa powder. I just can’t sacrifice the cookie texture for appearance.
Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper cut to size. I love the Kirkland Parchment Paper from Costco because I use an absurd amount of parchment. It’s great quality and a fantastic value.
Sift powdered sugar over your work surface. Be generous. You can use a bench scraper to clean up the mess later. Better to be generous now and have dough that you can get off the counter rather than stingy with a big, sticky mess.
Only remove one disc of dough from the fridge at a time, as you need it. Unwrap the dough and save the plastic wrap for any dough scraps to be re-refrigerated.
Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch. If you roll any thicker than that, the dough won’t hold its impressions well and the impressions will get stuck when you press them. That seems to be the ideal thickness from all of my prototyping. If you need to estimate 1/4 inch, use the impression that came with the cutter — it’s about 0.3 inches.
Use the outline cutters to cut as many cookies as you can from your first rolling of dough. Line the cookies up on your prepared sheet pans, keeping like-sized cookies together on the pans. Refrigerate the cookies for at least 10 minutes. This is easy to do while you roll the remaining discs of dough. Create a disc out of the scraps and wrap them in the plastic wrap you saved. Place the disc back in the refrigerator.
After at least 10 minutes have passed, take the first tray out of the refrigerator. For sticking, it’s incredibly important that your dough be cold and firm. Dust the top of the cookies with powdered sugar and dip the impression into powdered sugar. Line the impression up on the cookie and apply even pressure. Don’t press too hard or your cookie will get stuck to your cutter. If you’re careful and quick and have cold dough, you can simply pick the cookie up and peel it off the impression. If you’ve pressed too hard, you may have to re-roll that dough. The trick on this step is definitely cold dough, a dusting of powdered sugar and an impression that’s been dipped in powdered sugar.
This is one of many instances where practice, practice, practice makes perfect. The first time, it seems complicated and time consuming. After a bit, you’ll get the hang of it.
If you didn’t press firmly enough, you can always line the impression back up and press again. I’ve done that more than a few times.
Remember as you work through the cookies on the sheet, the first ones will require more pressure than the subsequent cookies. As they come to room temperature (which will be fast), you’ll need to apply less pressure. If you take too long, just put the tray back in the fridge to chill for a bit.
Don’t worry about excess powdered sugar on the surface of the cookies. You can use a pastry brush to dust off large amounts. Small amounts will bake right into the cookie and not sacrifice the taste or the texture of the cookies.
For the most clear impressions, place the cookies back into the refrigerator to chill before baking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes, rotating at 4 minutes. The larger cookies will require a longer bake time. You’ll know that the cookies are done when the edges turn very lightly golden.
If you have tips, tricks or techniques that work better than what I’ve described here, please do share!