As is often the case, many vintage recipes come with only half the instructions, missing ingredients, pieces torn off the card. You’re left wondering how to fill in the gaps and hope that you’ve baked enough (or cooked enough) that you can reasonably figure it out.
The recipe for Soft Ginger Cookies (part of my Box 3 Project) leaves out flour, baking temperature, & baking time, which I’m sure was fine for Gertrude Grabarkewitz (middle initials C.J.) but it’s not as fine for me, 90 years later trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do! So I decided to wing it. I found a great ginger cookie at King Arthur Flour as well as relied on my extensive use of the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (because we’re slightly addicted to those in our house) and patterned the flour loosely after those. I started with 2 1/4 cups flour & worked my way up to 3 1/2 cups, realized I’d forgotten to add the vinegar, wondering why in the hell there were so many liquids in this recipe, and stopped once it was finally all mixed, deciding that Soft Ginger Cookies must be those which lounge in the fridge for a bit while the dough firms.
When I think of bakers I envision quiet early mornings, kneading dough, welcoming the delivery of farm fresh eggs and butter to the bakery, watching the world wake up, stealing a sip of coffee here and there, with puffs of flour across freckled noses….Busy with their chosen craft yet somehow at peace because they are providing amazing things made of flour, sugar, salt, & eggs to the populace (Even if they are tired from getting up at 2 a.m.).
The baking reality in my house is that Toulouse the kitchen kitty is grumpily meowing at me because I didn’t bring catnip from the garden, my husband is in the other room unleashing insults and bellowing at football on the t.v., my mini-me baker is with him saying very helpful things like “oh! the other team has 6 points, now they have 7 points, oh look! now they have 13 points!”, to which hubby is yelling “that’s crap!” towards the refs. (I’m desperately hoping mini-me doesn’t decide that her use of that phrase will come during school hours).
I still haven’t showered & I’m in my pajamas at 1 p.m., I’m wondering who used all the flipping eggs and didn’t tell me, & a puff of dog hair the size of a small poodle floats by my feet reminding me that I need to sweep and shear the dogs of all hair forever more because I can’t stand their mess anymore. And, I have a giant bowl (a vintage bowl with Poppies on it, though, which is simply adorable and fabulous) of Ginger Cookie dough staring up at me with a look that makes me question my baking abilities to no end. But, the dough tastes good so there is hope 😉
I threw it in the fridge to firm, then once firm decided to roll them in balls about he size of a walnut & roll the balls in the extra sugar. The cookies tasted like pillowy gingerbread. They aren’t too sweet. I would add a bit more cinnamon and ginger next time though and there is no need to make that much cookie dough – halving the recipe would be more manageable.
I’ll be honest, I wanted more chew than fluff. I wanted more cookie than bread. That’s just my preference though, & because I adore the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies from Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook with their intense flavors and chewy texture I felt like these were just a little mellow for me. That being said, (oh dear, like you’ll make them now that I’ve said that….) they are quite good! I’d love a good cup of tea and a rainy day to go with these. They aren’t so sweet that you feel like you’ve overdosed on sugar by eating one. Many of the vintage recipes I’ve found, like this one, do not contain the insane levels of sweetness that a lot of modern desserts d0, which is refreshing. And if you did want them a bit sweeter, you could glaze them with a sugar-glaze of some kind; these soft baked cookies would soak that up and it would be delicious.
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup sour milk (milk with a couple of tsp lemon juice will do the trick)
- 1 Tbsp. vinegar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. powdered ginger
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 3½ cups flour
- extra granulated sugar for rolling (in a small bowl)
- In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, eggs, butter, molasses, sour milk until thoroughly mixed.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and flour. Mix well.
- Combine the flour mixture with the sugar mixture and stir until completely incorporated.
- Add vinegar and mix well.
- Put dough into fridge for at least 1 hour to firm. This will be a soft dough. You will curse the day you tried to roll it into balls too early when it's soft, trust me.
- Using portions about the size of a walnut (maybe a generous Tbsp size) make small balls of dough and roll them well in the extra granulated sugar.
- Place about 2 inches apart on a non-stick cookie sheet.
- Bake 375* for about 13 minutes
- Remove from baking sheet immediately and put on wire rack to cool