New Series: Recipes from the PastThe Bread Lady
If you have been following me for any length of time, you may know that I love collecting old cookbooks and handwritten recipes. If you didn’t, well now you do. In all of my time baking, my favorite comments are from customers who share how much they loved their grandmother’s baking and wish that they could decipher and recreate her famous cookies, pies, or biscuit. Sometimes they’ve tried and couldn’t get it just right, or the recipe has missing information and has remained a mystery. In an effort to encourage you to try your hand at your own heirloom recipes or give you a few to try from my own collection, I’ve decided that I’m going to start a new weekly series called Recipes from the Past in which every Tuesday, I bake and review an old recipe I found in an antique shop.
The rules are simple: all recipes attempted must be handwritten (no newspaper articles or clipped from packages), and all must be baked as stated or researched according to how it may have been prepared in that era in the event that important information is left out. In addition, if there are ingredients that are now obsolete or called something else, I will use a modern version of that ingredient or substitute with something comparable. Additionally, if the recipe results in a fail, I will attempt to “fix” the recipe and include field notes so you can apply it to your own baking adventures.
Lastly, if you have an old recipe you would like me to attempt, consider the challenge accepted! You can email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to take a crack at it!
Rose’s Peanut Cookies
To start off this series, I’ve chosen a peanut butter cookie recipe I found in an antique shop in Columbia, TN. It was one of hundreds that came in a large bag of recipes that I can only surmise were collected to create a local cookbook. There were half-typewritten copies of several of the recipes and a basic entry form, but it didn’t say what organization it was for. So, with that little bit of information, all I can say is, “Thanks, Rose!” Whoever you are.
There were no directions on the card other than temperature and time, so I followed a typical mixing process for cookies: cream the fat and sugar, beat in the eggs, add the peanut butter, then the flour, leavening and salt. I did find that I liked the appearance of rolling the dough balls smooth as opposed to just leaving them ragged. However if you just want cookies, this step isn’t necessary except for appearance purposes.
Note, When the cookies come out of the oven, they’ll be very soft. You’ll want to let them cool for a bit before moving them.
Finally, I chose to use butter-flavored shortening as opposed to regular shortening for added flavor, but upon baking them, I think next time I will try making them with softened salted butter and see if that works and improves the texture. As Gramma says, there’s no substitute for real butter!
1 cup butter-flavored shortening (or salted butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher recommended)
Instructions (edited for clarity):
- Heat oven to 375o
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together shortening and sugars until smooth.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy.
- Add peanut butter and combine until smooth
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add flour mixture to mixer and combine until smooth.
- Using a cookie scoop, portion dough into balls and roll smooth. Place a few inches apart on a lined cookie sheet (parchment or silpat). Use a fork to lightly press cross pattern into each of the dough balls.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are slightly browned around the edges. Cookies will still be very soft. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for at least 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
So there you have it! I would love to see and hear about your experience with making these cookies. Let me know if you tried them with butter! Please feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!