Why won't my Marion Cunninghams lemon cookies spread out while baking?

The first couple of times I made them they spread out to an elegant papery thinness. I am using the same oven but a different brand of butter. Could it be how long I cream the butter and sugar? How I mix the dry with the wet? I am on my sixth batch and I am stumped. They are still delicious but not as pretty. I likes the mouth-feel better whrn they were thin. The recipe follows:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Raw sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS: Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla, lemon rind and lemon juice, and continue to beat until smooth.

Mix or sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and add to the butter-sugar mixture. Blend well.

Turn the dough out onto waxed paper or plastic wrap and form it into 2 logs about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and about a foot long. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or wrap tightly and freeze until used.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the logs into about 1/8-inch-thick slices (they should be less than 1/4 inch thick), and place cookies about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with raw sugar if desired.

Cut only enough to fill the cookie sheets. Then return remaining dough to the refrigerator to keep chilled. Bake 7 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are light gold in color. Watch carefully during the last 1 to 2 minutes of baking so they won’t overbake. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing them.

Makes about 50 cookies.

  • Posted by: fhp
  • December 21, 2012


Sadassa_Ulna December 21, 2012
Are you using "better" butter, maybe European or more expensive "premium" butter this time? Water content can range and "better" butter typically has less water and more butterfat. That could make a difference.
Oops just read your second comment, yes I do think it's the Irish butter. Also I think keeping them chilled will prevent spreading and therefore getting thinner. Maybe try a few that you slice and let sit at room temp for 8-10 minutes; bake those and see if they get to the thinness you like.
Monita December 21, 2012
I don't think the butter should make a difference. Most people will use a regular butter, not an Irish butter, so that should affect the outcome and I don't think creaming by hand should change anything. Making sure your ingredients are all fresh is a good step.
Monita December 21, 2012
Besides the butter, can you discern anything else that you may have changed: are you cutting the cookies thicker? is your oven maintaining a consistent temp? You could try chilling the sliced cookies before baking them to see if that helps
fhp December 21, 2012
Ill give that a shot. Ive been pretty careful about keeping these little babies chilled. Do you think I should 'Blend" by hand when incorporating the dry ingredients with the wet ones? I think it might have something to do with the butter. The first time it was an Irish butter and it seemed fattier. I think I will also buy some new baking powder although mine shouldn't be that old. Im also going to try rolling the "log" to a larger diameter.
Recommended by Food52