Years ago, I lived and worked in Center City Philadelphia. On weekends, I would escape the hustle and bustle of the city and drive to visit friends who lived among the lush Pennsylvania Dutch farmlands in Lancaster, Pa. The Amish bakeries were a treasure trove of old-fashioned, homemade cakes, pies, cookies, and pastries. My favorite Amish treat was Soft Amish Sugar Cookies. I would dream about these little gems all week. These are a very tender, soft, light, slightly sweet, little cookie – more like a miniature tea cake – delicately topped with a sprinkling of sugar and one raisin in the center. I always ate my first cookie as I left the bakery on the way back to my car.
One weekend, my friend told me that he had a very special gift for me. He and his wife were local residents and, somehow, he was able to get the bakery’s recipe for their famous Amish Sugar Cookies!! I was skeptical. Surely the bakery left something out of the recipe. So, that weekend, we made Amish Sugar Cookies and, sure enough, it was the real deal! I’ve been making them ever since – over 30 years. Every time I make these, that first bite transcends me back to that beautiful drive into the pristine hills and valleys of the patchwork of Amish Country farmland and the pure, home-spun goodness of the Amish restaurants and bakeries – such wonderful memories.
Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined.
Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
Add the baking soda and cream of tartar to the flour and mix gently. Alternate adding the flour and sour cream to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour, in about 3 additions.
Only mix until the flour and sour cream are combined; do not over-mix. Mixture should form a stiff batter.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet. If you don’t have parchment, be sure to lightly grease the baking sheet with vegetable shortening.
Sprinkle the cookies lightly with granulated sugar. Press a raisin in the center of each cookie (optonal).
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes or until the cookies are barely beginning to turn brown around the edges. The cookies should be pale and not golden.
- ½ cup soft unsalted butter
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Raisins (optional for topping)
- Cream shortening, butter, and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and combine. Mix the cream of tartar, baking soda, and flour in a separate bowl. Add the dry mixture to the sugar mixture alternating the flour and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour, in about 3 additions. Drop by rounded teaspoons (I use a small cookie scoop) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sugar and press a raisin in the center. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-13 minutes or until the cookies barely turn golden around the edges. Do not overbake. Note: If you don't have parchment paper or a Silpat mat, be certain to lightly grease the baking sheet with vegetable shortening.