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Vintage cookie recipes
beta_aquilae wrote in little_details

Does anyone have suggestions for American cookie recipes that wouldn't be out of place in the 1920s? Bonus points if they're known to be favourites with children. My character is sitting in Fairbanks, Alaska and writing her aunt in the Mid-West to ask for recipes (say, between 1925 and 1928), but while I've found collections on the Internet, actual recipes are harder to come by. All I've managed to learn is that it's too early for tollhouse and chocolate chip cookies. As a food history buff and cookie monster I'd love it if I could make something more of it than just the old oatmeal and raisin cookie.

Google searches so far include the following search terms: 1920s, cookies, recipes, recipe collections, baking, chocolate chip cookies. 

I have some recipes from the 1700 - late 1800s rural Nova Scotia which, while telling you nothing in terms of popularity or ingredient availability in Alaska, might help with searching.

The cookies in this recipe collection (from Sherbrooke Village, a local historical site) are for things like:

Maid of Honour Cookies (also called thumbprint cookies - sugar cookies, where you make a hollow in the top with your thumb and put on a tsp of jam. So very good with plum or apple jelly).

Oatcakes are very East Coast, I think, but they're in there too (a dry oat cookie; I don't get the appeal, myself).

Scones & raisin scones

Gingerbread - this one is pretty common everywhere, I think, and it's quite the kid pleaser. This isn't the modern gingerbread men, though - it's more like a banana bread; slices of a dense loaf served with a sweet (caramel or butterscotch) syrup. I don't know when gingerbread men/gingerbread sheets first started being made.

Plain sugar cookies

Long Johns (soft molasses cookies)

Hope something in there is useful! If you want any of the actual recipes, I'm happy to type them out for you.

Edited at 2008-07-09 11:37 am (UTC)

That gingerbread you mention sounds like something we here in Lancashire, North England, have always referred to as Parkin. It's a Bonfire Night staple, like treacle toffee. Very heavy and sweet and quite highly spiced.
I never could stand the stuff, myself.

Welsh cakes, perhaps - a pan-fried cookie that tastes like a scone, and is sweetened with currants traditionally, but any dried fruit nowadays. I've found references to them in several books about England from the nineteenth century. They're probably similar to the "patticakes" in the nursery rhyme, actually.

I think your best bet is a simple sugar cookie with jam or raisins to sweeten it further.

How about jumbles? Katy and Clover have them sent in a care package in What Katy Did at School, so they'd've been around long before the 1920s. I always thought they sounded terribly exciting but, having found a recipe recently, actually ... not so much.

You found a recipe? Could I possibly trouble you for a link? I always thought 'jumble' was what the Carr family called a ring doughnut.

Doughnuts do sound more likely, in context, now you say that. As a child, I imagined them as some sort of refrigerator cake - made up of all sorts of odds and ends mixed together. But all the recipes I can find - and I've managed to come up with a completely different lot on this Google search than I did before - just make them sound like rather boring biscuits. Here's one with treacle in.

Ooh, they actually sound rather lovely. My mouth started watering around the place where it said 'fill them with whipped cream'.

This particular recipe sounds like a variant on brandy snaps.

I've just re-read the passage, and find that the Carr family also sent crullers. Now I have to Google and find out what those are!

My mum collects vintage cookbooks, so I can help you out here :) Both of these books were used in home economics classes, so they would have been accessible and probably standard. From "Anyone Can Bake", copyright 1927, from the Royal Baking Powder Company, we have cocoanut cookies, Scotch fingers, peanut cookies, Swedish ginger snaps, macaroons, nut bars, Rochester ginger snaps, meringues, shortbreads royal, Mrs. Moody's walnut bars and oatmeal macaroons. The ginger snap recipes in this one are great.

From "All About Home Baking", 1936, General Foods Corporation, we have butterscotch cookies, chocolate pinwheels, chocolate walnut dollars, coconut ice box cookies, date surprises, little spice cookies, old-fashioned sugar cookies, peanut butter ice box cookies, sand tarts, spice drops and vanilla nut cookies. (This book had several editions from the 1920s and didn't change much between printings, I just can't find the 1926 copy). I've only tried the butterscotch cookies but they were OM NOM NOM, definitely.

I obviously don't want to type in the recipes for all of these, but let me know if there's a couple you want and I'll send them to you.

Edited at 2008-07-09 12:03 pm (UTC)

Go see the Food History Timeline!

They have tons of information, and some links to recipes.

Cheers, Lee

Snickerdoodles or GTFO

It's cheap to make a lot of them and I believe they're from that era. Also: hilarious name.

They are really good, too.

Gillian Polack is recipe-testing for a Prohibition-era banquet, and she's posted a lot of 1920s recipes on her site - specifically, look here for the 'biscuits and scones' tag.

I believe a number of 1920s American cookbooks are now out of copyright, so if you google "1920s recipe book" or similar you can find actual recipes, not just buy links.

Hermits (spice cookie with raisins/dates) should be from that time period.

Fantastic, thanks everyone! Will look through your links, and if I'm very lucky my subconscious will decide that buying a pound of butter and going on a cookie-baking spree will be much more positive and constructive than playing around with fix-it fanfic scenarios for canon I have, let's say serious reservations about .

Molasses cookies?

A co-worker of Dad's made the most awesome ones (and they were cut out with a coffee can and therefore HUGE and we loved them so much), but he was imported from Boston in the 60s or 70s, so there's no guarantee of it being an authentic recipe that was actually kicking around in Fairbanks at the desired point in time.

If you're still looking for recipes you might want to ask over in food_in_fiction.

These recipes are from the Food Timeline site section about Christmas cookies.

"Christmas Cookies

Take one pound and a half of flour, three quarters of a pound of sugar, half a pound of butter, half a cup of milk, and two spoonfuls of caraway seeds; melt the butter before you put it in. It is rather difficult to knead, but it can be done. Roll it out and cut it in hearts and diamonds, and bake it on buttered tins."
---New England Economical Housekeeper and Family Receipt Book, Mrs. E. A. Howland [E.P. Walton:Montpelier] 1845 (p. 29)

"Bohemian Christmas Cookies

Yolks of 2 hard-cooked eggs, 1/3 cup butter or butter substitutes, 1/3 cup sugar, yolk of 1 egg, 1 tablespoon milk, flour to stiffen for rolling, 3 tablespoons finely chopped blanched almonds.

Put the hard-cooked yolks of eggs through a ricer or sieve and cream with the butter or butter substitute. Add the sugar, cream, again, then stir in the uncooked egg-yolk, the milk, and sifted flour. The dough should be stiff enough to roll. Cut into small round shapes with cooky-cutters, brush these with beatn egg-white and sprinkle with finely chopped almonds. Bake in a slow oven (300 degrees F.)."
---New Butterick Cook Book, Flora Rose [Butterick:New York] 1924

The caraway ones sound good, but I'm kind of repulsed by the idea of hardboiled egg in cookies. :)

Try the Fanny Farmer or other cookbooks of the era, several versions are up online, apart from that, ginger snaps, sugar cookies, molasses cookies, and soft oatmeal cookies made of leftover cooked oatmeal- too bland and squishy for me, but my dad, born in '24, loves them, but can't find a recipe since his mom passed on- my attempts to recreate them just don't work for him. (so if you do find a recipe, please post it:)