Watercolour Sugar Cookies


The semester is really winding down now, so I was lucky and had the day off on Thursday 🙂 I only have one final this semester because most of my grades were determined by group work/projects. All of that was completed and handed in before the Easter weekend (yay early due dates! … not), so I don’t really have any pressing school work at the moment. Because my finals schedule is so much lighter than everybody else’s, I’ll probably be the baking fairy and bring people treats while they study for finals. To kick things off, I decided to make sugar cookies.


I haven’t done anything really creative in a while, so I decided to do something a little bit different. I remembered reading in the SprinkleBakes book a while ago that you could mix colour gels with egg yolks to make bake-able paints to use on cookies. I don’t particularly like the idea of trying to wash egg yolks out of paint brushes, so I decided I would try the Sweetapolita method that I vaguely recalled reading about. This way involves dissolving your colours into vodka or clear lemon extract. Regardless of what you use as a diluent, you essentially paint the newly mixed colour onto your cookies!


All the things you need!

I definitely liked painting onto the cookies, though I think next time I’ll do a couple things differently. Firstly, I’ll probably make the colours a little bit more concentrated. I used about ½ a table spoon of vodka with one drop of gel squeezed from each bottle. It did make a really nice water colour effect, but I probably will use less vodka for future projects. I also want to try adding the vodka to the gel, rather than the other way around. I found that the gel mostly dissolved when you really stirred it, but left little crumb-like bits of gel at the bottom of the glasses. I did not like that. 


I also was pretty excited to make sugar cookies because of the fox cookie cutter I got this past Christmas. So stinkin’ adorable!


To keep the shapes truer to the pre-baked state, cool the cookies in the fridge before putting them in the oven. Also avoid putting cookies on a pan that is already warm. The warmth softens the ingredients (yay butter!) and allows them to expand more readily in the oven.

The recipe I used was adapted from Pillsbury’s Best Cookies Cookbook. This book is the best! It was my go-to for all things cookie before I really hit the internet with recipe searches. I don’t think there is anything I’ve ever baked out of this book that I didn’t like. It’s been a while, so I’m hoping the standard is still high!


Pro-Tip #5: Don’t.

Of all the sugar cookie recipes I’ve used (including the ones from a few of my baking idols), this is by far my favourite! The original recipe calls for hand mixing, but I used by stand mixer because I’m lazy. Somehow I still did the eggs by hand. Who knows.


Old-fashioned Sugar Cookies


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp lemon extract


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed to combine and aerate the ingredients.
  2. Using a knife or pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in chunks quarter-sized or smaller. Mix on low speed until the butter and flour mixture becomes crumbly.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, use a fork to beat the eggs. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat with a fork.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Repeat with the lemon extract, continuing to beat until light. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula a couple times to ensure everything is mixed.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer, and mix on low speed until dough forms up. Scrape the sides once with your spatula just to be safe, and mix on low for a few more seconds. 
  6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  7. 1 hour later… Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  8. Working with one third at a time, roll cookie dough out on a surface sprinkled with flour until it is about 1/8 inch thick (I actually like them when they’re a bit thicker). Cut using your favourite cookie cutters!
  9. Place cookie cutouts on an ungreased cookie sheet with 1 inch between each other. Bake for 6-11 minutes (mine took 7 minutes), or until golden around the edges.
  10. Enjoy! 

Official recipe reference:

Pillsbury Publications. (1997). Old-fashioned sugar cookies. In Best Cookies Cookbook. (pp 115) New York, NY: Carkson Potter.

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