My Communal Table

Aunt Marge’s Sugar Cookies
April 25, 2010, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Desserts | Tags: , , ,

My mother remembers as a child discovering a big clay crockery filled with sugar cookies down in the root cellar below her grandparents house. The perfect cool place to store these delicious morsels. Her grandparents lived on a farm in northern Michigan. I have a great visual of my mom and her cousins sneaking down into the cellar grabbing big fluffy cake like cookies through out the day of play.

My Great Aunt Marge was the one of my grandmothers’ generation that earned the family’s respect for having the best “hand” for making these cookies. She made these almost everyday of her over 50 year marriage to Uncle Lyle because they were simply his favorite cookie. She wanted to make sure that he always had one when he got off the tractor at the end of day. Aunt Marge never made another sugar cookie after Uncle Lyle passed away. She could not bear it. Now that is food of love.

The batter needs to be chilled for 24 hours after making it. You also need to roll out and cut out one tray of cookies at a time, because it is so important to keep the dough cool. I bet my Aunt Marge kept the dough in the fridge and just cooked up one tray at a time. I can not imagine that the dough would not be good for a week in the fridge.

My sister, Suzanne, makes these the most of our generation, because it is one of her childrens favorites. It is one of her foods of love. Her advice is to keep everything chilled, work fast without too much handling, and no substitution of ingredients. When I asked her if the cookies freeze well, she said, “I have no idea, they never last that long.”


1 cup sugar, plus more for dusting the top of the cookie
1 cup lard
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/4 cup white karo syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring
3 cups flour, plus more for bench flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Beat lard and sugar together.
2. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk and then add to sugar and lard.
3. Add egg, karo syrup, and lemon flavoring.
4. Beat together.
5. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg all together.
6. Add dry ingedients to wet ingredients and mix together.
7. Chill dough for 24 hours. Yes, 24 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 425F.
9. Generously flour your board. Take 1/3 of the dough out on floured board and put the rest in the fridge.
10. Roll the dough out to about 3/8 inch thick. It is really delicate, so work fast. Warm dough is a lot harder to work with.
11. I use an old stewed tomato can with each end cut out as my cookie cutter. Make sure that is floured as well.
12. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Dust tops of cookies with sugar.
13. One tray at a time in oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. They puff up nicely, but pull them out before they look done. Overcooking these cookies is a crime. A crime, I say!

It is hard to discribe what these cookies mean to my family. I think of the love that Aunt Marge had for her husband every time I make these cookies. I remember several generations back have made these exact cookies for the people that they love. I smile knowing it will go on.


10 Comments so far
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The story that you’ve written about your great aunt is really touching. I like that about your blog, although you blog about food, you make it personal as well.

Great cookies—they look like pillows!

Comment by fattydumpling

Pillows ! Great way to put it. Thanks for the kudos. Serving someone a plate of food is really personal.

Comment by behindthechair

Elizabeth, you are the keeper of so many wonderful stories! Food and family memories are inextricably linked, but are too easy to lose if our busy generation doesn’t somehow find the time to keep them alive through cooking.

Comment by Liz Simpkin

Liz, You sure summed it up well. I am more aware then ever that people really do want to start cooking and eating better. I am excited about this movement that seems to be bringing people together.

Comment by behindthechair

I MUST make these immediately for MY cookie monster! Eric’s gonna love ’em…

Comment by kris

You both will love them. Definitely a food of love. Bon Appetit!

Comment by behindthechair


Food is made ever more delicious when it’s linked to special memories. Thanks for sharing both the recipe and the story — great job.

Comment by Carol

Could you clarify the buttermilk amount? I want to make sure I get the recipe just right..Thanks

Comment by Pam

OMG. I can not believe I missed that. Thanks for the heads up! Sorry it took me so long to edit, but it is done. Bake onward!

Comment by behindthechair

I love hearing about your Aunt Marge…She would so love this!

Comment by lizthechef

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