2 1/4cupsall-purpose flourplus more if needed for rolling
3/4cup1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1large eggroom temperature
For the Royal Icing
2 2/3cuppowdered sugarsifted (plus more if needed)
6Tbsp.room temperature waterplus more if needed
Food coloringif desired
For the cookies
In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed for about one minute, until smooth.
Add the sugar and beat with the butter for about two minutes until creamed.
Add the vanilla and egg and beat on high for about one minute. Scrape down the sides with a spatula if necessary.
Add 1 cup of flour, plus the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix on low until incorporated.
Add the other 1 1/4 cups of flour and mix on low just until the flour disappears.
Touch the dough. If it sticks to your finger, add flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Be careful not to add too much flour!
Sprinkle a silicone mat or parchment paper with flour. Roll out the dough to 1/3 inch thick on the mat or parchment paper.
Put onto a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to two days.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut into desired shapes. Place three inches apart on cookie sheets.
Gather the dough scraps, combine them by pressing firmly together, and roll out again to cut more cookies. Repeat until the dough is gone.
Bake for 10-11 minutes, until edges are slightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool for five minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Royal Icing
Add all ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat for two minutes. Add food coloring if desired.
To test the consistency, lift the whisk out of the icing and count how long it takes for the icing to settle back into itself. If it takes longer than 10 seconds, add a teaspoon or two of water. If it settles too quickly, add a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar.
Pipe onto cookies using a pastry bag fitted with a small writing (or other) tip. If you don't have a pastry bag or tips, you can cut a small hole in the corner of a plastic sandwich bag and gently squeeze your icing out through the hole.
When piping pumpkin shapes, pipe the outer edges and middle section first. Wait for at least a half an hour to pipe the remaining two inner sections.
Let icing dry completely, about two to three hours.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.