Pâtisserie / Recipe

Nigella’s butter cut-out cookies

 Nigella's butter cut-out cookies

Time stood still as Sienna and I flipped through the pages of Nigella’s Feast, searching for our next baking project; she stumbled upon numbers cut-out cookies, iced in vibrant colors, and I was immediately transported to the first time I ever baked these cookies, years ago.

We’d just gotten back from a weekend getaway in London where I had bought snowflake cutters and silver sugar pearls from a quaint little cake decorating shop that lined a square, which name I’ve since forgotten, in Chelsea.

I think I might have even shared the recipe on my first blog foodbeam, do you recall it too?

Iced butter cut-out cookies.

Fast-forward to last January, when Sienna and I eagerly pulled out our pepparkaksformar [gingerbread cutters] from the pantry. The countertops were soon covered in a dusting of flour as we mixed, rolled, and cut out the dough into – very much our of season – Christmas figures.

Sienna’s eyes lit up with excitement as she iced the cookies and sprinkled them with violet sugar and snowflake sprinkles, a combination I can only recommend.

Nigella's butter cut-out cookies

We had the most wonderful time and the perfect fika, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had waited so many years to bake these cookies again. As wiped clean the countertop, I promised myself it wouldn’t be long until the next time.

To be continued!

 Nigella's butter cut-out cookies

Nigella's butter cut-out cookies

This classic recipe, adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast, is celebration of buttery goodness and irresistible melt-in-your-mouth texture. Only using kitchen staples, these cookies are wonderful to make for every occasion - from everyday to birthday parties, from Christmas weekends to care packages - and the perfect recipe to make with children.


On baking iced cut-out cookies with children:
- I find that piping a thin line of icing around the edge of the cookie and letting Sienna fill the cookies with a small piping bag of icing works best for everyone. 
- I usually fill a disposable piping bag with a few tablespoons of icing for Sienna and then tie a knot or use a clip to seal the bag. 
- Nigella says to " colour as desired [...] remembering with gratitude that children have very bad taste"; I most often opt not to use food colourings and will only give Sienna a few different scented sugars or sprinkles. And if I'm using food colourings, they have to be natural!
A note on salted butter and salt:
If you'd asked me years ago about my thoughts on salted butter I might have uttered a plain: "Non!".
But now, after living in Sweden for the past eight years or so, I almost exclusively bake using salted butter. And really, 'm not ever going back, although I must admit it makes writing recipes harder as the salt content in butter varies greatly across the globe. Here in Sweden it is usually 1.2%.
But that's the reason why I reduced the amount of salt from the original recipe. If using unsalted butter, I'd recommend using a total of 1/2 tsp salt. 
Author: Fanny Zanotti
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Total Time1 hour 32 minutes
Makes 30 cookies


For the cut-out cookies

  • 90 g salted butter room temperature
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt read note above

For the sugar icing

  • 150 g icing sugar
  • boiling water


  • Prepare two baking trays lined with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix it just starts to form a dough.
  • Shape into a thin disk and wrap in clingfilm. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat your oven to 180ºC/fan 160°C.
  • Sprinkle your work bench flour, place the disc of dough on it, and sprinkle with a light dusting of flour. Roll out to a thickness of about 5mm. Cut into shapes using cutters. If you find that the cutter sticks to the dough, dipping the cutter into flour as you go usually helps.
  • Place the biscuits a little apart on the baking sheets.
  • Bake for 8–12 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Place on a write rack to cool.
  • When the cookies are cooled, get on with the icing. Place the icing sugar in a bowl, and add just-boiled water - a teaspoon at a time - until it forms a thick icing.
  • Decorate the cookies. I find that it's easier to pipe a thin line of icing around the edge of the cookies, then fill in. At home, I'll usually pipe the outline and then let Sienna fill the cookies in and add sprinkles.
  • Let the icing harden. When completely hard, transfer the cookies to an airtight container. They will keep for a week or two at room temperature.
The aftermath!

 Nigella's butter cut-out cookies, the aftermath

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