Sugar Cookies Without Baking Soda or Baking Powder

Sugar Cookies
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Sugar cookies are one of the most loved sweet treats. Both children and adults enjoy them. Accompanied by a coffee, a glass of milk or a cup of tea, these goodies can make your mornings brighter and your evenings cozier.

Beside the fact that they taste so good, sugar cookies are affordable and easy to make. You don’t need fancy or expensive ingredients. The classic recipe requires only things you usually have in your pantry, like flour, eggs, butter, sugar, baking soda and baking powder.

The following recipe will teach you how to make these cookies without baking soda and baking powder.

Why is baking powder used in cookies?

Baking powder enters the category of chemical leavenings and contains a combination of powdered acid and powdered alkali (sodium bicarbonate).

When you add it to a moist batter, there is a chemical reaction taking place in there which produces carbon dioxide. This gas inflates the cookie making them softer and airy.

Sugar Cookies

Why is baking soda used in cookies?

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, has the same role of making the cookies fluffy. It is generally used in combination with an acid, like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or buttermilk. 

Why are baking powder and baking soda both used in cookies?

There are some recipes that require both baking soda and baking powder. In this case, the amount of baking soda used doesn’t produce enough carbon dioxide to raise the cookies so you will need to also add baking powder.

What happens if you make cookies without baking powder and baking soda?

When using these two leavening agents, the cookies will turn out fluffier. However, not adding them to your recipe is not such a big deal. You will get equally delicious cookies even without them. The texture will be denser but this omission won’t affect the taste.

Eggs are a great replacement for baking soda or baking powder. They have the binding role of keeping all the ingredients together but also to inflate the cookies a little bit. 

What will you need for sugar cookies?

Sugar Cookies_ingredients

  1. Flour – you may either use all-purpose flour or bread flour. Even cake flour works for this recipe. If you want gluten-free cookies, replace the wheat flour with a gluten-free flour mix which has xanthan gum.
  2. Butter – I strongly suggest you use butter with at least 80% content of fat because it will give that creamy and rich taste to your cookies. Along with the conventional ones, grass-fed and pasture raised butters are recommended.
  3. Sugar – any white granulated sugar works just fine. Make sure you keep a few tablespoons to sprinkle over the cookies. If you want to add brown sugar as well, the cookies will become a bit chewy. For less caloric cookies, replace the sugar with erythritol or xylitol and you will get sugar cookies with no sugar.
  4. Egg – only one egg will be enough to moisten and fluff the cookies a bit.
  5. Vanilla extract
  6. Almond extract – this is an optional ingredient. I personally love the flavor and you need only one drop to make the cookies taste divine.
  7. Crushed almonds – if you don’t like the almond extract or find it too strong, simply stick to the crushed almonds. They will add a sense of crunchiness to these goodies and make them even better if that is possible.

Alternative for vegan sugar cookies

In case you want to bake vegan sugar cookies, you should know that you will need to use either baking powder or baking soda because you don’t have the egg which helps the dough to raise.

The butter can be replaced with any vegan butter you are usually using. Omit the egg and add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable milk, like almond or rice. 

Tips for baking the best sugar cookies

  • If you only have whole almonds and you need to crush them, just put them in a plastic bag and use a meat hammer to turn them into small bits.
  • Allow the butter to soften and reach to room temperature so you will be able to whisk it together with the sugar. If the butter is cold, you will need to mix longer. It will get warmer in contact with the mixer palettes but won’t have that creamy consistency you need for perfect cookies. 
  • After adding the egg, the dough will become very sticky. Cover it with plastic bag and take it to the fridge for at least one hour so the butter will harden. My advice is to divide it into halves so it will be able to cool quicker. If you are in a rush, 20 minutes in the freezer are enough so the dough can be easily handled.
  • When you want to line the tray with parchment paper it is possible that the paper won’t adhere to it. Wet the tray with a little bit of water or grease it with oil and the problem will be solved.
  • After placing the cookies in the tray, sprinkle the sugar and crushed almonds and press them with the back of a spoon so they will stick. Otherwise, you may lose the tiny bits of almonds when transferring the cookies to a wire rack or serving plateau.
  • The cookies may seem small when placed on the tray but make sure you leave enough space between them as they will enlarge when exposed to heat.
  • Depending on how you like your cookies (softer or crispier), you may bake them 15 minutes or longer. Since I had several tray of cookies, I baked half of them for 15 minutes and the other half for 20 minutes. The first lot turned out soft and a bit chewy while the second was crunchy. I personally liked the second texture more but that all depends on the personal taste.
  • Make sure you leave the cookies in the tray for 10 more minutes after removing the tray from the oven. As the tray is still hot they will cook a bit longer.

How to Make Sugar Cookies without Baking Soda or Baking Powder

Step 1

  • Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Sugar_Cookies_ingredients1

Step 2

  • Add the egg, vanilla and almond.
  • Stir in the flour and mix until well combined. 

Sugar_Cookies_ingredients2

Step 3

  • Divide the dough into halves and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.

Sugar_Cookies_ingredients3

Step 4

  • Preheat the oven to 376F (180C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside. 
  • Make small balls of dough and place them on the tray, 2 inches apart. Flatten with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle sugar and crushed almonds and flatten again so they stick to the cookies.

Sugar_Cookies_ingredients4

Step 5

  • Bake for 15 minutes for softer cookies or 20 minutes for crispier ones.
  • Allow the cookies to cool in the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Sugar_Cookies_ingredients5

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies Without Baking Soda or Powder

Yield: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup (220g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    • 2/3 cup (130g) + 3 tbsp white sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 drop almond extract (optional)
    • 3 tbsp crushed almonds

    Instructions

    1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
    2. Add the egg, vanilla and almond.
    3. Stir in the flour and mix until well combined. 
    4. Divide the dough into halves and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.
    5. Preheat the oven to 376F (180C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside. 
    6. Make small balls of dough and place them on the tray, 2 inches apart. Flatten with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle sugar and crushed almonds and flatten again so they stick to the cookies.
    7. Bake for 15 minutes for softer cookies or 20 minutes for crispier ones.
    8. Allow the cookies to cool in the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
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