July 23, 2013

Aristocrat in the Kitchen: Cookies from a Wood Burning Stove

Over the weekend, I had a fun adventure with a recipe from another century. The Country Handmaiden, who does reenactments on the weekends, baked these cookies first and posted them on her website. (Yes, as all-but-an-atheist, I do enjoy reading Christian Homemaking blogs. But the importance of being regularly exposed to ideas with which you disagree must wait for a later post.)

The recipe is as follows (emphasis mine):

Ginger Snaps (1890)

2 eggs well beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp soda
Enough flour

Mix in order given.  Turn out on a floured surface; cut into shapes.  Bake in a quick oven.

Luckily, Miss Elizabeth does a quick bit of translating to make the recipe more recognizable for us who are used to modern cookbooks where all the steps and ingredients are given.  I like ginger snaps, I had a jar of molasses in my pantry, I thought it would be fun to make an old fashioned cookie, so I gave it a go.

Now a word about molasses: it is amazing. Sweet, but also a hint savory, it is one of the better sweeteners you can use by taste. But it also has amazing mineral properties giving you an excellent source of manganese, copper, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Your body depends on these minerals for a wide variety of biochemical reactions, but our diets and our food these days don't provide much by way of minerals. So unless you are taking a multivitamin- which you should be- you could be mineral deficient. (Obviously, don't take my word for it. Do you own research or consult with your nutritionist.) 

Full of excitement and delight, I mix up the ingredients and begin adding flour. Now, maybe it was the heat (edging into the 100's that day) or maybe I just miscalculated something, but I added A LOT of flour before the dough wouldn't stick to the counter as I tried to roll it out. The cookies came out of the oven (after only 7 minutes) rather puffy and cakey.

The cookies were less of ginger snaps and more of travel rations. Thick, heavy - not bad tasting- but not like any cookie I've had before. You could eat two for a meal and be just about fine.  Now, I'm not sure if it was my fault for adding too much flour and being incapable of rolling out cookie dough, or if cookies have evolved since the 19th century. Maybe they were heartier and less delicate now. Fewer dainty macaroons that you see popping up everywhere and more of the breakfast cookie you can buy in coffee shops. It was a fun experience, even if I'll be sending most of them to my boyo.

Have you ever experimented with recipes from another era or century?

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