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PA Dutch sugar cakes

December 3, 2009

Sugar Cakes

I debated even posting this recipe because I kind of  thought these cookies were rather plain and needed something more to boost their flavor.  But let me start at the beginning.  Someone asked me if I’d ever heard of sugar cakes, and she gave me her family recipe.  Apparently this is a PA Dutch cookie and versions of it are very popular in the PA Amish community too.  Having never eaten them, I figured I’d give it a try.  (I’m passing along the recipe exactly as it was given to me.)

This recipe makes a sticky dough that just didn’t want to cooperate with a cookie scoop or even spoons.  Some of the cookies kind of oozed all over the cookie sheet, while some stayed in their nice little circle shape.  There just didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to which ones turned out well and which ones didn’t.  And, frankly, since they didn’t taste exceptional, I ended up just bagging the whole thing mid-way through.

Not long afterward, my sister-in-law and her hubby walked in and were mighty happy to see the cookies sitting on the table.  They ate a bunch of them and really enjoyed them.  Maybe they were just frustrating me too much for me to like them.  Go figure.  I’m just moving on.

Recipe:  Sugar Cakes

2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. butter, softened

1 c. buttermilk

4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbsp. boiling water

3 eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream sugar and butter.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/2 of the flour, and all of the baking powder.  Mix well.  Add the remaining, buttermilk and flour, and the baking soda.  Mix well.  Add vanilla and mix.

Drop by spoonful onto lightly greased cookie sheet.  (Only grease baking sheet the first time.)  Sprinkle with colored sugars.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges start to brown and an indent made by your fingertip disappears on the cookie’s top.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2009 6:43 am

    Are these THOSE cookies? :)

  2. oneordinaryday permalink
    December 3, 2009 6:53 am

    Ingrid – Yep. These are the ones. You’re gonna get me in trouble! LOL Hush!
    ~ Michelle

  3. December 3, 2009 7:39 am

    Not every recipe is a winner, I guess. Sounds like these were a bit plain maybe? Oh well, you gave it a go.

  4. December 3, 2009 9:05 am

    so i’ll be skipping these this holiday season, although they do indeed look festive. i’d probably prefer regular ol’ sugar cookies anyway. :)

  5. December 3, 2009 10:42 am

    At least they’re pretty :-)

  6. December 3, 2009 3:51 pm

    I’m sorry these didn’t work out in the taste department. They are festive, indeed. You could surely apply the pretty sugars to a better cookie recipe, right?

  7. Jess permalink
    December 19, 2009 10:42 am

    They need icing! I live in Lancaster, PA and grew up eating sugar cakes (we actually call them sugar cookies). I have never had them without icing, which to me, is the best part!

  8. JustImagine35 permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:09 pm

    I totally love this recipe!!! They are great and so moist. How can you not like them? I thought it was very easy to make and delish! But that is my opinion, anyways thanks for posting this recipe becuz my whole fam hearts it!

  9. Kate Rauhauser-Smith permalink
    December 6, 2012 7:41 pm

    I grew up on a farm in York County, PA (next one west from Lancaster County) and we only ever called them sugar cakes and never had icing on them. Such a regional thing! They do have a simple flavor … but that was their attraction. They were just good. Soft, with a cakey texture and consistency. These were not generally made for the holidays. My grandmother (a good old fashioned farm wife, born in 1904 and raised speaking the Dutch) made these as an every day cookie … we always had pie and cookies available in her house. She always made a tin of them for us to take to cattle shows and there was always at least one night out of the two week vacation Bible school when the snack was red punch and sugar cakes made by several of the ladies in the church. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. oneordinaryday permalink
    December 7, 2012 6:27 am

    Kate – Thank you for sharing the story of the sugar cakes! :) My neighbor brings them to us now and then and my kiddos enjoy them too. (btw – I am actually in York County!)
    ~ Michelle

  11. Jane permalink
    January 8, 2013 10:13 pm

    Thanks for the sugar cake recipe I’ve been looking for this recipe for some time now! Would anyone have the recipe for “Baby Cakes”? It’s not the normal babycake recipe you normally see. My family is from the Reading area and I still look for them when I visit. The only place that I’ve found to have “Baby Cakes” very close to what I remember is the Heidelberg Family Restaurant in Robesonia. I’d love to locate the recipe so I could make them myself.

  12. Sandy Bruce permalink
    January 13, 2022 6:22 pm

    NO! They are absolutely not,cookies. I grew up on them – my grandma used to make them but in later years she went to market and bought them. My mother made them, usually not often. And I made the, for my husband and later in my son. The picture shows them too small – they are usually about 5” or so in diameter – and plain sugar is the normal sugar sprinkled in top but we did do them in Christmas sprinkles for the holidays. And – they were used as a breakfast food (we ate them all day!). My husband especially liked them slightly warm from the oven. They must be kept covered as they go stale quickly – that’s why I don’t make them when we drive from North Carolina where we live out to Aurora, Colorado – drive takes around 2-3/4 days and their would either be eaten before we got there or they would be starting to get stale. I’m from York, PA and I’ve noticed that the grocery stores, etc. are now calling the, Sigar Cookies. They are not cookies!! And they are wonderful! Thanks for listening X this recipe is almost identical to my old one except where the baking soda is – we put it into the buttermilk, and there is no baking powder in our recipe. Maybe give these notes a try the next time you bake.

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