Author: L.M. Montgomery
Book: Anne of Avonlea
Difficulty rating: Pride and Prejudice, but only because they didn’t provide the flour amount in the recipe. Plus, we had to press marigold petals for the frosting. (If you do already have the flour amount, it’s Little Women. If you don’t bother with the naturally colored frosting, it’s Harry Potter.)
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations
Part of Anne’s Golden Picnic
“I’m going to have the daintiest things possible … things that will match the spring, you understand … little jelly tarts and lady fingers, and drop cookies frosted with pink and yellow icing, and buttercup cake” (102).
Did it measure up?
Jenne found them pretty boring, but I enjoyed these — of course, I tend to like plain buttery food in general. They reminded me of Hato Sablé, regional Japanese dove cookies from Kamakura. I thought the cookies tasted better without the frosting, and if I were to make them again, I’d cut the sugar to 1.5 cups, maybe even less.
Also, this dough spreads a TON, so one recipe makes a gajillion cookies. (If you do cut the sugar, it might not flatten quite so much.) I’d make a half-recipe at a time from now on.
ANNE’S DROP COOKIES
Adapted from Culinary Landmarks or Half-Hours with Saulte Ste. Marie Housewives (From Mollie, p. 134)
We’ve discussed in previous posts how brief and vague olden recipes are — they assume that you have a lot of cooking/baking knowledge already. For example, a lot of the recipes for sugar cookies in this book don’t specify the amount of flour, oven temperature, or baking time. They are basically a GBBO Technical Challenge. Take Mollie’s recipe here:
“Two cups sugar, one cup butter (beat to cream), one egg, pinch of salt, one cup sour milk, one teaspoon soda. Flavor to taste. Flour to roll.”
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 egg
- Healthy pinch of salt
- 1 cup sour milk (Do NOT actually use milk that has gone sour — see directions below for making sour milk. Buttermilk will also work–it’s basically the same thing.)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3.5 cups flour
1. Prepare sour milk by adding 1 tbs white vinegar to 1 cup milk. (You can use lemon juice if you don’t have vinegar.) Stir and let it stand for 5 minutes before using.
2. Cream butter until it’s pale and fluffy.
3. Add 1 egg.
4. Add a healthy pinch of salt.
5. Add sour milk.
6. Sift baking soda and flour into a separate bowl and add to the cookie dough.
7. Drop 1/4 tsp of dough a few inches apart on a cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 12 or so minutes at 350 degrees F, until the edges are nice and brown and crispy.
9. Cool on a rack and frost with:
PINK AND YELLOW ICING
We had grand plans to make Victorian/Edwardian icing from Miss Eliza Leslie or Mrs. Flynn’s cookbooks, but we had to abandon that idea because it was now past midnight and we had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn the next morning. We now have a new rule: “Authenticity be damned if it’s past midnight.” So we did the simplest icing possible:
- Powdered sugar
- Coloring agents (see below)
- Vanilla (to mask the icky taste of marigold)
There aren’t specific amounts or directions — I just mixed the ingredients together till it tasted and looked right. It takes surprisingly little milk, so just add a tsp at a time.
The coloring agents, we did try to keep authentic. The pink was easy enough — though we were fresh out of cochineal, any red berry would suffice. Raspberry was deemed most appropriate.
The yellow was a bit more difficult. We batted around a bunch of ideas that popped up in old cookbooks. Lemons/oranges didn’t sound like they’d be strong enough in color. Saffron — did they even have saffron back then in rural Canada? Raw egg yolks … but that sounded gross. And then, the trusty Culinary Historians of Canada had an idea: marigold petals. That seemed very Anne-ish.
Directions for Pink Coloring:
1. Blend raspberries with a little water.
2. Strain through a clean muslin … or if you are like me and have no clean muslin, use a paper towel.
Directions for Yellow Coloring:
1. Find a yellow/orange organic marigold.
2. Strip the petals and cut the little white stems off.
3. Wash thoroughly.
4. Blend with as little water as possible until smooth.
5. Strain through a paper towel.
6. Truth — marigold is super-bitter. Add vanilla paste to mask the taste.
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Avonlea. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., 1909.