Baking Dorie’s Lemon Sugar Cookies

Since I have been on Twitter more, I have learned that many people are unhappy about autobiographical prose in the lead-in before food bloggers get to the recipe. Apparently all of those words are just a waste of space.

So far, I haven’t seen the bloggers themselves respond, but other readers have come to their defense in arguing that it isn’t a huge cost to scroll down when you’re getting the recipes often for free.

Having allowed cookies to dominate my blog for the past few months, I feel freshly minted and qualified to chime in on this debate as well with two observations.

First, if it weren’t for the lead-in, there frankly wouldn’t be a lot at all to these posts. To a knowledgeable baker, I think many recipes could be written in one hundred words or less, which frankly isn’t enough to get anyone hooked.

Second, it’s surprisingly hard to come up with related topics to write about. I didn’t know how to start this post, so I made it a meta lead-in about lead-ins. I get why one would just fill the space with whatever was going on that day.

Anyways, now that I’m six paragraphs in, I feel like I can start on this recipe: Dorie’s Lemon Sugar Cookies.

I again was baking before the baby woke up, so I started with my mise en place i.e. getting everything out. It may seem trivial, but by far the most frequent mistake in recipes is leaving something out. I once made a banana strawberry bread appropriate for construction when I forgot to add leavening.

The new scale is fantastic. At first, we didn’t have a place to put it, but then we found ourselves using it so much that we just left it on the counter.

Like the previous recipe, Dorie instructs the baker to rub citrus zest into the sugar until “moist and fragrant.” It’s an oddly pleasing way to start a cookie recipe with something very tactile when cookies often are just dumping and mixing.

I picked a great lemon that squeezed to exactly 1/4 cup of juice as requested. Reading ahead, I saw that the lemon juice was incorporated at the same time as the vanilla, so I had some fun and poured the vanilla into the lemon juice. It didn’t quite mix, and I ended up with this somewhat interesting blend of colors

I don’t have much more to say about the dough: it came together nicely and was as straightforward as ever to make.

The recipe called for teaspoon balls, and since I still don’t have a small cookie scoop, I went with roughly 16 gram balls, which were then rolled into a ball and then coated with white sugar. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s significantly more time consuming than just scooping and dropping out mounds onto the baking sheet.

Dorie didn’t call these ones “spreaders”, but she did say they “spread dramatically”, and for once, I agreed. The two inch gap was still plenty to avoid cookies going in for a smush hug with their neighbors.

The recipe made sixty cookies, which sounds like a lot but makes sense if they’re spreaders: each cookie isn’t very heavy but just, well, spread. She gives a baking time from 8-14 minutes depending on preferred chewy and crunch.

I went for 10 minutes on the first batch so I could ship off soft cookies that hopefully wouldn’t get too stale. Even cool, they almost melted in our mouths. I baked the second batch to 12 minutes, and you can see just a little more color around the edges as well as a slightly different, two-tiered shape.

I could theorize how the 2 minutes made a difference in the shape, but I also used parchment for the first batch and silicone mats for the second (not for science, but just because I was baking so many), so there were multiple variables in play.

In any case, the second batch was also delicious in a different way. The crunch around the edges was nice contrast while the inside was still tender. I guess maybe this appeals to fans of brownie edges.

Julie and I agreed that these cookies were fantastic and put them into our top tier. Highly recommended, especially since the only even remotely special ingredient is a lemon: everything else is quite typical for a cookie recipe.

You can find the Lemon Sugar Cookies recipe from Dorie herself.

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