These easy birthday sugar cookies with icing will make a perfect treat or a birthday gift! Sweet, buttery, with crispy edges and soft centres, topped with royal icing. Make your loved ones feel special with these delicious, homemade cookies!
This post is a part of paid collaboration with Tate & Lyle Sugars. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
As we all are adjusting to the new normal, there is one thing that has not changed, birthdays! Celebrating the special day may look very different at the moment, but it's still an occasion worth celebrating! These birthday sugar cookies will make a perfect gift or an addition to any gathering, big or small!
Why sugar cookies?
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I'm a massive fan of sugar cookies. I love baking them during holidays and special occasions. They're super easy to make, really fun to decorate and can be prepped well in advance. Sugar cookies can be made into almost any shape and make great gifts for friends and family.
7 ingredients and one bowl
You only need 7 ingredients to make these birthday sugar cookies. Butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt. Everything is mixed in one bowl of an electric mixer (you can use handheld or freestanding mixer).
I normally prepare my dough a day in advance and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Well chilled cookie dough will be much easier to handle. It also will spread much less than a dough that have not been chilled. Super important, especially when baking some intricate designs.
Quick word about royal icing
Most of bakers out there use royal icing to decorate their cookies with. Royal icing is typically made with either egg whites or meringue powder. It tends to be more stable and thicker than the one made with just icing sugar and is ideal for fine-detail decorating.
If you have royal icing sugar, use that instead of standard icing sugar in this recipe (and skip the egg whites and cream of tartar).
But you can also make a perfectly good icing with just powdered sugar and some milk or water. It may not look as fancy, but it will still taste delicious! Here's a couple of tips for making icing with just powdered/ icing sugar:
- First, make thicker icing for borders. Use it to trace the outline around your cookie. Border icing will act as a barrier to hold in the more liquidy flood icing in it's place.
- Second, make slightly looser, runnier icing for flooding. Use it to fill in the area in the middle of the cookie. Simply add more water/ milk into the sugar.
Adding the food colouring to your icing is a great way to add more detail and make the cookies look even better, but it's not necessary. If you are adding some colouring, I recommend using the gel food colouring. Just remember to add a little bit at a time, until you have the desired colour. Also, keep checking the consistency of the icing as gel food colouring may make it thinner.
Roll your dough before cutting the cookies!
I've learned this trick a long time ago from Sally's Baking Addiction and it's a good one! Whenever making sugar cookies, always roll out the dough right after preparing it, then I chill it. As mentioned before, chilled dough will prevent your cookies from spreading. Avoid chilling the cookie dough and then rolling it, because it will be too cold and more difficult to work with.
I always divide my dough in half, as smaller pieces are easier to manage. Then, I place it on a silicone mat or on a non-stick baking paper and roll it to about £1 coin thickness. It is much easier to transfer the dough onto baking trays, if it's already on a mat or baking paper.
Make ahead and storing tips
You can prepare the dough and icing for these cookies well in advance and freeze it. Both will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze the dough, divide it in half, wrap each piece tightly with cling film or re-usable kitchen wrap (no need to pre-roll it) and freeze. Thaw it in the fridge, then bring to room temperature for about an hour.
Icing can be frozen in zipped freezer bag. Make sure to squeeze as much air as possible before sealing the bag. Freeze it on a flat shelf surface in your freezer. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature before using it.
You can also freeze the cookies (plain or decorated) for up to 3 months. Make sure the icing has set completely before freezing them. Place them in freezer- friendly container with sheets of baking paper between each layer of cookies. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature.
As always, thanks for tuning in to today's post. Feel free to leave me a comment and/ or a rating if you tried this or any other of my recipes! Remember that you can follow me along on my social channels: Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
Birthday sugar cookies with icing
- crown shaped cookie cutters
- baking parchment or silicone baking mat
- baking trays
- electric mixer
- rolling pin
- Piping bags
For the cookies:
- 280 g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 170 g unsalted butter softened
- 150 g Tate & Lyle pure cane caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing:
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 500 g Tate & Lyle icing sugar
- 2 tubes gel food colouring (optional)
For the sugar cookies:
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Place softened butter in a bowl of an electric mixer and beat it on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and cream it together for another 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat on high speed until well combined. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure you combine it all together.
- Add the flour mix into the butter and sugar mixture and mix on low speed until combined. If the dough feels too sticky to roll, add one more tablespoon of flour. Divide dough into two parts and roll each part on a lightly floured silicone mat or baking paper to about £1 coin thickness. (about ¼' ). Transfer the rolled dough onto baking tray and place in the fridge for minimum of 2 hours (if chilling overnight, cover the dough with some cling film or re-usable wrap).
- Preheat the oven to 170 C (fan). Line the baking trays with baking parchment. Remove one of the pre- rolled dough pieces from the fridge. Using cookie cutters, cut the desired shapes out of the dough and transfer into baking trays. Re-roll any scraps and cut the cookies again, until you have used all of the dough.
- Bake in the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes until the edges are lightly golden. Rotate the baking tray with cookies half way through baking time. Take out of the oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking trays, before transferring onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make icing:
- Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or an electric mixer fitted with beaters) and mix until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes).
- Sift in the icing sugar and beat on low speed for another 2 minutes. With the mixer running on low, keep adding some water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the icing reached the desired consistency. When lifting the whisk up from the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 10-12 seconds ('draw' a line with the dripping icing, if it disappears after 10-12 seconds, it is ready). If you want your icing to be thinner, keep adding more water, if you want it to be thicker, add more icing sugar.
- If using food colouring, divide the icing into separate bowls and mix with gel food colouring. Keep checking the consistency, as adding the food colouring may change the consistency of your icing. Transfer the icing into piping bags. Snip the very end of each piping bag and decorate the cookies.
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- quantity of cookies will depend on the size of your cookie cutters
- you can fit piping bags with small piping nozzles, but it is not necessary
- if not using piping nozzles, snip each piping bag at the very end of it. You want a tiny opening that will create a thin flow
- make sure the cookies have cooled down completely before decorating them with icing
- allow the icing to dry before adding more detail made out of icing again
- if you have royal icing sugar, you can use that instead to make your icing (follow the recipe as per instructions on the pack)
- it is also possible to make royal icing with meringue powder. Follow this recipe for full instructions
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