Not too sweet and with an almost floury flavor, these cookies—the recipe for which is from the family of my friend Mackenzie Merkel and her mom, Kim Rudenberg—may seem plain when compared to other sugar cookies in a crowd. But swipe them with some soft buttercream (Aunt Joan uses canned cake frosting but homemade would be delicious) and you can appreciate how their soft cakiness mimics grocery store-style cookies. —Sarah Jampel
tons and tons of cookies, depending on the size you cut them
Preheat the oven to 350° F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes using an electric mixer, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix to combine.
Stir together the dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients slowly. Chill for at least 1 hour.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick (you may have to add a bit more flour to the actual dough as well). "These cookies are cake-like," says Aunt Joan, "and the thickness is what makes them good." Cut or slice into shapes and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets (don't put the cookies too close together—these spread a bit).
Bake at 350° F until the bottoms are slightly browned and the tops are puffy, usually 8 to 10 minutes. Don't over bake.