With only one day to finish Christmas preparations, a day to turn the mind to the reality of the birth of Jesus Christ, I don’t expect anyone to stir up a batch of these cookies tomorrow. The great thing about these cookie is they are perfect year round. These were the stand-by cookies that Ed’s grandmother baked for her family.
Ed’s mom, one of the oldest of 13 children, was born in an Iowa farm community at the beginning of the Great Depression. Her father was killed when she was 13. Her mom had no more skills than other ordinary housewives of that time who had only a basic education and no means of a steady income. Times were still very tough and for a year or two some of the younger kids were farmed out to various families in the community until Edith was able to find a means to support her family. But through it all her humor, strength, endurance and love stayed intact. She never remarried and as an older woman lived with one grown child after another, staying a year or two at the most then moving to the next. She always kept a crock full of these cookies for her children. Sour cream and eggs are cheap when living on a farm so these were about the only cookies she ever made. Ed’s mom in turn brought her three kids up on these cookies and by the time I came to know him, Ed’s dad almost always had a couple of these cookies during both his morning and afternoon breaks. He will be a recipient of a box of them (fresh ones!) when his birthday rolls around in a couple of weeks.
Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shortening (half butter is okay but these hold better with some type of shortening – I used a cup of solid Organic Coconut Oil for this batch – yummy!)
2 Cups Sugar (I use 1/4 cup less)
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Enough flour to make a stiff dough, usually about 5 cups depending on the flour, plus extra for dusting the pastry cloth or rolling surface.
Sugar and nutmeg (optional)
Ed’s mom just dumped all the ingredients into one bowl and mixed them together by hand. I prefer to beat the more conventional method:
Place first 3 ingredients in mixer to incorporate as much air as possible, add eggs and beat some more. (4-H cooking tip learned ages ago that may be useful to someone reading this: To measure ingredients such as shortening or peanut butter, fill a 2-cup glass measuring cup with water the same amount as the shortening, ex., 1 c shortening fill the glass with 1 C of water then spoon in the shortening until the water level reaches the 2 C mark, pour off the water and dump the shortening in the bowl.
Stir the Baking Powder, Soda and Salt into 2 cups of the flour and blend into the creamed mixture. After it is well blended add the rest of the flour, a cup at a time blending each before adding the next. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a day.
Heat oven to 350
Working in small batches, roll dough on a well floored surface dusting the top as needed with more floor to thickness desired. Our family likes these cookies to be on the thin side, crisp but with a bit of chew, not so thin that they’re brittle. I have a friend who loves them rolled thick and still almost white from the oven so they stay soft. I can get over 110 cookies from one batch when rolling thin, 80-90 when rolled thicker.
Sprinkle sugar & nutmeg over the rolled dough before cutting. (Often I will omit the nutmeg, or use cinnamon for variety.) Ed’s mom and grandmother used to place an empty evaporated milk can, with the paper removed, on top of a hot burner for a few minutes then pry off the bottom; it makes the perfect size of cookie.
These will take 8 – 12 minutes to bake depending on the thickness. Ed and his dad like the cookies just done with a pale golden, I like mine golden brown with the edges almost overdone.
Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are most excellent with milk!