One of my Christmas gifts this year was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall in Sugar Creek, Ohio. The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.
The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes. There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts. The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era. This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo” rather than margarine in most recipes and the attention given to oven temperatures. I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.
The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake. That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions. I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.
I cut this recipe in half and then increased the flour so the dough would be easier to handle. This recipe gave me a good opportunity to use my vintage hatchet cookie cutter just in time for Washington’s Birthday.
These cookies are like so many from that era – plain, good, inexpensive and easy to make.
CUT OUT SUGAR COOKIES
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup sour milk*
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3-½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. soda
- Colored sugar for sprinkling on top
*To make sour milk: Place ½ Tblsp. white vinegar in a one-cup measure. Add milk to make ½ cup. Let stand 5 minutes before using.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream shortening, sugar, egg, sour milk and vanilla. Whisk together salt, flour and soda. Add gradually to creamed mixture, blending well.
Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured board and cut out with desired cookie cutter.
Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with colored sugar.
Bake @ 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the thickness and size of cutter.
I’m displaying the cookies on a handkerchief commemorating Washington’s Birthday in 1932 – the year I was born.
Since we got our first major snowfall of the year yesterday, I wasn’t sure 4-year-old granddaughter Dolphin would be here for her weekly Wednesday visit, but here she came, all bundled up in pink coat and boots, ready to make Christmas cookies.
I brought out my big copper breadbox filled with all kinds of cookie cutters and it was a hard decision to narrow the choice down to 7 or 8 cutters. She picked them out, though, and I don’t believe any of them were Christmas cutters, but the colored sugar would make a Christmas cookie out of any design.
With the older grandchildren (now in college and beyond) the best part was mixing the cookies, especially breaking the eggs, but the two youngest grandchildren, Dolphin and her brother Jellyfish, are somewhat squeamish about getting stuff on their hands so I normally have the dough ready for rolling and cutting when they get here. This time, though, Dolphin wanted to make the cookies from scratch and did all of the measuring, pouring and mixing.
She did a good job rolling out the dough, asking every few seconds, “Is this good enough?” until she had the cookies cut out and on the sheet.
Then came the fun of using all the sugar and decorations she wanted – and she used a lot, as the grandchildren always do.
When the cookies were finished, she was extremely proud and only ate a portion of one pony, saving the rest for her mom and dad and for Jellyfish when he got off the school bus.
Here is the recipe the grandchildren have been using for about 25 years. It’s the favorite Christmas cookie of my son-in-law and one older granddaughter and they both like the cookies cut rather thick and barely golden around the edges. I personally like the cookies rolled very thin and baked to a crisp brown. The baking time and the yield will depend on how you like your cookies.
GRANDMA'S BUTTER CRISPS
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup softened margarine
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tsp. vanilla
In mixer bowl, blend flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Mix in butter and margarine. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of beaten egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla over the flour mixture. Blend well and form into a ball.
Roll out 1/3 of dough at a time to desired thickness on floured board. Cut with floured cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheets, an inch apart. Brush with remaining egg and sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake @ 375 degrees F 5-8 minutes for thin cookies, several minutes more for thicker cookies to a golden brown.