Is there any food more reminiscent of childhood than a plate of cookies and a glass of milk? Long before Tollhouse began experimenting with chocolate chips, sugar cookies had been a staple in historical kitchens. Martha Washington was married to George Washington, the first President of the United States. The following recipe is taken from her household book of recipes, collected throughout her life.
To Make Sugar Cakes
Take 3 ale quarts of fine flowre, & put to it a pound of sugar, beaten & searced; 4 youlks of eggs, strayned thorugh a fine cloth with 12 or 13 spoonfulls of good thick cream; & 5 or 6 spoonfulls of rose water; A pound & a quaeter of butter, washt in rose water & broaken in cold, in bits. knead all these ingredients well together . after, let it ly A while, covered well, to rise. then roule them out & cut them with a glass, & put them on plates (a little buttered) in an oven gently heat. all these kinde of things are best when ye sugar & flower are dryed in an oven before you use ym.
This modernized recipe, claimed to have been served by Dolley Madison to her husband, President James Madison, is a little easier to follow:
2 cups butter
¾ cup milk
4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
10 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
10 egg whites, beaten
Flour to suit
Cream butter and sugar in large wooden mixing bowl. Stir in custard-like egg yolks. Follow this by lightly stirring in stiffly beaten egg whites. Add milk. Dissolve baking soda in a little boiling water and blend with other ingredients. Lastly add cinnamon and blend. If dough is not the right consistency to roll out, work in more flour as needed. When ready, place dough on floured board. Roll out into thin sheet about 1/4 inches or less thick Cut cookies in any desired shapes Place on shallow buttered baking sheets Sprinkle sugar over them prior to putting in moderately quick oven (375 degrees) for 10 to 12 minutes or until done. Makes about 6 dozen.
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