Buttermilk Cookies

Cookie, Desserts, Southern, Summer / Friday, June 20th, 2008

Summer officially arrives in the U.S. tonight at 11:59 p.m.

This is the year we make friends.

Life’s too short to dread the humidity, chlorine, and mosquitoes big enough to rape a chicken. And the sweating. The sweating! No, I’m not going to focus on that.

Last January, Gourmet printed “What Is Southern?,” a previously unpublished essay by the late Edna Lewis, one of the South’s most celebrated chefs. Here’s the part that caught my attention:

“Southern is a hot summer day that brings on a violent thunderstorm, cooling the air and bringing up smells of the earth that tempt us to eat the soil. Southern is Tennessee Williams and Streetcar … Southern is a pitcher of lemonade, filled with slices of lemon and a big piece of ice from the icehouse, and served with buttermilk cookies.”

Now, there’s a vision of summertime in the South I can get behind.

I promised myself I’d bake buttermilk cookies for the first day of summer, and I did. Sweet and lemony, with a slightly tangy glaze. Cakey on the inside, crispy around the edges. They sneak up on you.

In fact, the experience was so nice, I’ve decided to kick off The Buttermilk Cookie Experiment: a summer of learning how to make classic Southern foods. Fried chicken. Biscuits. Fried green tomatoes. Peach cobbler. Lane cake.

So, welcome, Summer. Bring your appetite. Skip the swimsuit.

Buttermilk Cookies

From “Gourmet”(January 2008)

Makes about 5 1/2 dozen cookies

    For Cookies:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
    For Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two large baking sheets.
  2. Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.
  5. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until smooth.
  6. Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks.
  7. To Glaze the Cookies: Whisk together all glaze ingredients and brush onto tops of warm cookies. Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

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24 thoughts on “Buttermilk Cookies

  1. Surely you must learn to cook greenbeans. No crispy, 5 minute things…but slowly cooked until there is not one vitamin left, just sweet goodness!

    Cookies are the best… tea cakes

  2. So funny you posted these today…I posted about them a while ago and love them. I am actually making them again tonight for a party tomorrow. They are great! I doubled the lemon in them to make them especially lemony. :)

  3. Oh, yes, I think I might have drooled all over that issue. I’m a sucker for Southern food- I’m born and bred Midwestern, but I swear, it was a gastronamical mistake. I eat like Nobody’s Business when I get to my favorite places- NC and Texas. Different Southern, and I love them both. I’ll have to make these to have with my Memphis iced tea…

  4. Rape a chicken?? A CHICKEN????? As in pik pik pikaaaakip?? Oh my, I am feeling a little chicken myself but I am gonna be brave and pop on over to collect meself some of them buttermilk cookies. They look too good to ignore. Y’all go bake some more for me now y’hear? :) xx

  5. Yum. I agree with the hot, sticky attacked by mosquitoes aspect of summer, yet it has it’s own charm, don’t you think? Like the way your skin sticks to your best friends as you’re crammed together in an un-airconditioned car, or the smell of plants at dusk. And, evidentally, buttermilk cookies.

  6. I read that article too and really enjoyed it. I’m a “westerner” but have lived in the south and now the midwest. I really enjoyed my years down south. It’s about the food and friends (and cockroaches, lol).

    Your cookies look delish! Good luck on your new venture.

  7. Oh! If Husband would ever fix the oven I’d make these. Then i’d make a cocktail since the only sensible way to take this heat and damn the mosquitoes requires whiskey.

  8. “So, welcome, Summer. Bring your appetite. Skip the swimsuit.”
    Amen, sister, I said AMEN!

    P.S. You’re the recipient of an E for Excellent award from yours truly. Please stop by and pick it up!

  9. Great timing…next week’s TWD recipe calls for buttermilk. Thanks for the recipe as now I won’t have to stand around thinking, “What the heck am I going to make with the rest of this buttermilk?” These cookies look like the perfect answer. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Can’t wait to try these… I happen to have some buttermilk in the fridge from a couple other recipes this week— a great way to use it up!
    Your blog looks great. I’m sure I’ll be back. I started with checking out a Tuesday’s with Dorie post as I’m considering jumping in on that– I love that cookbook and have great success with all I’ve baked out of it.
    Thanks for you awesome photos too!

  11. […] buttermilk to use up, but I’ve found a couple other contending recipes including this one for buttermilk cookies from a newly discovered blog, ezrapoundcake.com).  Instead I will probably stick to my old standby […]

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