Friday, 29 November 2013

Rustle Up a Pile of Autumn Leaf Sugar Cookies

Thanksgiving came and went too quickly!

I started craving Pumpkin Bread last week but couldn't find time to make it till Tuesday this week! It was time to buy some Philly and get serious. I used Mom & Dad's recipe, of course — dividing the aromatic, amber mixture into five aluminum pans I'd sprayed with Pam. When they were enrobed in foil, I put all but one in the freezer. Neil and I polished off one by Thursday, so I had to have pumpkin pie for breakfast Thanksgiving morning because they were all frozen.

I wound up giving one loaf to the butcher Wednesday when I went to pick up our turkey breast. They knew I'd be celebrating Thanksgiving but I've added a strictly British staple from the Christmas dinner to my Thanksgiving menu: chipolata sausages. They are the perfect combination with the turkey and gravy. And he contributed them free of charge to our Thanksgiving table, as a thanks for the Pumpkin Bread. How nice!

My son doesn't like Pumpkin Pie, which is my traditional Thanksgiving dessert, so I rustled up a pile of Autumn Leaf Sugar Cookies just for him Tuesday. It's a very easy recipe, no frosting or decoration required — just a standard sugar cookie recipe, to which you add seasonal food coloring. You can also add other extracts, zests or flavorings, if you like.

I usually go with Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe but I used another one that I found when I made Candy Corn Swirl Cookies for Charlie's Halloween party. They vary very little. I got to use my new canisters that I bought at Sainsbury's too. I bought them to put on the counter, where they'll be easy to use as the holiday baking blitz begins!

I divided the dough into thirds (about 1 cup each), got a gob of food coloring paste onto a toothpick and smeared it onto each dough ball. After kneading the color into the dough, I shaped them into discs, wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them for two hours (or overnight).

Now for the fun part: I unwrapped the dough, tore off random bits from each color and created an autumn mosaic of dough! There's no way of getting it wrong, really. Just mix up the colors and roll. They're like tie-dyed cookies. I kept the dough I wasn't using in the fridge till I was ready for it.

After getting the dough going on a floured countertop, I moved it to a parchment-lined baking sheet, while it was still easy to handle. Once I rolled it to about 1/4-inch thickness, I put the cookie tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes (while I got another sheet going).

I brought out the cold, kaleidoscopic dough sheets and cut out the cookies, right on the trays, lifting the dough away, instead of moving the cookies from a counter to the trays. This method helps any cut-out cookie keep its shape during the baking process.

After getting all the cookies cut out and the unused dough laid onto the counter, the cookies went back in the freezer for another five minutes before baking.

I always watch sugar cookies carefully, not letting the edges brown, usually going with the minimal amount of time called for in a recipe because they keep on baking on the trays. They cooled on the rack, except for a couple that Charlie and I grabbed while still soft and warm.

The dough that's been laid aside now needs to be rolled out again, forming a new mosaic. Each time it looks different, just like in nature! These are so great because you can't go wrong. Of course, the more times you roll out the dough, the more homogenized the colors become, so after the third time, it's like that cricket-colored brown of yucky leaves that collect near the gutter after it rains. I didn't make any like that but I'm sure they would still get eaten. Each time you roll out a new mosaic, freeze it till you can work with it again.

I used my copper maple leaf cutter and yellow, red and orange doughs. The cookies were cute and colorful and had a yummy, simple flavor that Charlie likes. I wouldn't mind a sprinkling of colored sugar or a citrus extract or zest on mine next time.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Elisabeth. I think your sushi is like artwork!

  2. Creative, I never thought of doing that. My kids would have loved the idea.

    1. Thanks, Richard. I think you would be able to adapt the recipe when the children are on Christmas vacation. Just divide the dough into two colors (red & green), and use an ornament cookie cutter. Have fun!