Sometimes people wonder why I don’t plan out what I’m going to make for the entire year or even for a week. The main reason is life. Sometimes things happen that prevent me from making what I think I want to make on a particular day. Today I’d planned to make something to accompany our Christmas Eve meal of appetizers. Instead I got so busy heating all the little bites that I completely forgot to make the recipe. So instead I’m going to try a recipe from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book that fits the evening even better. It’s serendipity! After all tonight is the night that Santa visits and he needs to keep up his strength with regular doses of cookies and milk. Perhaps Mrs. Young‘s recipe for Christmas Drop Cakes in the Cookie section of the cookbook will please him.
Since I don’t have a scale here, I used the internet to find out the equivalents for this recipe. I started by softening 1/4 pound (1/2 cup) of butter. I ended up making it a bit too soft, well, really part of it was semi-liquid. This has happened to me whether I’m using a cook stove, a modern stove or the microwave. Do you think it happened to women in 1898 too? I creamed 1/2 pound (1 cup) of sugar with the butter and then added two beaten large eggs. I mixed in the 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) flour next. I zested more than half a lemon since I forgot it was supposed to be just half a lemon. I cut the lemon, squeezed the juice from half of it into the bowl, and stirred. Unfortunately the local town grocery store was sold out of currants so I used raisins instead since the recipe allows for some adaptation. I added 1/4 pound (1 cup) of golden raisins and was ready to start preparing the pan when I realized I’d forgotten the soda. I put 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in a small dish and added just enough hot water so the soda dissolved. I stirred it into the rest of the mixture and then dropped the batter onto greased cookie sheets. I tried to keep them to a 1/4 teaspoon size. I was surprised by the size of the recipe since it makes a small quantity. However this is offset by the tiny size of the cookies. They are very tiny little cookies so it takes a bit of time to spoon them onto the pan. I baked them at 350 F. but wasn’t sure how long to cook them. They are so small I started checking them after 5 minutes to be sure they didn’t burn. I discovered that 7 or 8 minutes was perfect. The dough turned from little blobs to flat spread out cookies. I removed them from the pan to let them cool and then it was time to sample before leaving a plate out for Santa.
Mrs. Young is a bit of a mystery. I know the identity of Mrs. James Young but who is Mrs. Young. There are three widows Mary, Jennie and Grace with the Young surname who are the appropriate age plus there’s Flora married to William; Christina married to Robert; and George Young’s wife Mary. Could it be Katie wife of Walter or Annie wife of William? Or is it Harriet and Albert or Annie and Henry? I still don’t know who gets credit for this recipe. Santa Claus was already a popular Christmas gift giver and his image appeared in stores, Christmas cards, and advertisements. My father’s father born in 1890 received a book about Santa Claus as a gift when he was quite young. Twas the Night Before Christmas was already a beloved seasonal poem and books with Thomas Nast’s illustrations had clarified the appearance of Santa. I’m not sure when children learned that Santa appreciated milk and cookies.
I’m not sure what makes them Christmas but these “drop cakes” or cookies certainly are a nice change from the heavier Christmas goodies found in this cookbook. I think Santa will like these cookies. My family and I really liked them. My brother had two handfuls, my brother-in-law made appreciative sounds, and we all liked the light taste and texture combined with the hint of lemon. Although the golden raisins worked with the flavour I really should have cut them up. Currants would be better and so would peel. I’m not sure nuts would be as nice but perhaps chopped walnuts would taste good in the cookies. The tiny size makes them easy to eat and the crispy edges combined with the softer middle is cookie bliss. I think Santa will appreciate the lightness of Mrs. Young’s Christmas Drop Cakes. Hopefully he’ll leave some for the rest of us to enjoy again tomorrow.
CHRISTMAS DROP CAKES
One-half pound flour, one-half pound granulated sugar, a large quarter pound of butter, one-quarter pound currants, two eggs beaten light, juice and rated rind of half a lemon, one-quarter teaspoonful of soda (dissolved with hot water); put fruit in last. About one-quarter of a teaspoonful of batter for one cake, leave a little space between each cake. Drop on a buttered tin and bake. Peel may be used instead of fruit, also nuts.