1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until compeletely mixed. Add lemon zest and mix. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and vanilla in a seperate bowl and add to the butter mixture gradually and mix with the electric mixer or by hand until it forms a ball. If the mixture is too sticky and hard to form a ball you can add just a little bit more flour. Divide the ball into to pieces and wrap each piece with plastic wrap and refregerate for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 350 to 370 depending on your oven. Take one of the pieces from the fridge and roll it about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the shapes you like with cookie cutters dipping the cutters into flour each time you cut to prevent sticking. Place the cookies into ungreased cookie sheets. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge for 15 minutes before you put it in the oven. This prevents the cookies to spread and loose their shapes in the hot oven.
Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned on the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before you decorate.
We decorated the cookies with royal icing but you can use other frostings, icings, colored sugars, candies etc. Here is the recipe for royal icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder
2 tablespoons water
Just add everything together and mix with an electric mixer for at least 5-6 minutes. To prevent drying, store the icing in an airtight container. This icing can be kept at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks.