Thursday, December 29, 2022

Three Popular Cookies a Hundred Years Ago, and Recipes for Today!

Once again, I find myself researching weird things for my work-in-progress, a novel taking place in 1920 simply titled "Polly", which will release a year from now in January 2024, as the first in the Apron Strings collection by various authors.

Today I'm delving into baked goods, and I'm learning about the most popular cookies in the 1920s. By the way, did you know that the history of cookies in general dates back to seventh-century Persia? Thought of throughout generations as hand-held cakes or wafers, they showed up in the cookbook Goode Huswife’s Jewel by Thomas Dawson way back in 1596.

With that, let’s take a look at three still-popular favorites from a hundred years ago. Grab a cup of tea and maybe a left-over Christmas cookie too, because this post might give you a craving.

Image by Michaela from Pixabay

The 1920s had an orange-flavored palette, and I discovered a myriad of recipes for baked goods with that tang. Vitamin C was discovered in 1927, and freshly squeezed orange juice became popular at breakfast time. Maybe because oranges have been so popular to give to children at Christmas time, it seemed in the natural progression to develop Orange Drop Cookies.


Orange Drop Cookies

2/3 cups cold but slightly-softened butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup (4 ounces) orange juice

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt



2 1/2 tablespoons slightly softened butter (33 grams, 1.2 ounces)

1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (182 grams, 6.4 ounces)

1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

If icing seems too thick, add a few more drops of orange juice. It's been suggested that brushing on icing works slick. Sprinkle with orange zest if you like.



Snickerdoodles - Image by RockYourCradle from Pixabay

Another popular cookie from a hundred years ago and one that was first baked in 1891 by Cornelia Campbell Bedford is the cookie with the name to make you giggle: the Snickerdoodle. Ms. Bedford was a New York cooking teacher and newspaper writer who been working on a recipe for the Cleveland Baking Powder company when she came up with a sugar cookie covered in sugar and cinnamon. Once published, the fame of the recipe quickly spread. Here's my favorite version of the cookie.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together:

½ cup butter

½ cup shortening (for all of my baking, I always use shortening made with “meat fats” rather than vegetable oil shortening. By the way—this is a secret to terrific pie crusts too.)

½ cups sugar

2 eggs

In a separate bowl, mix:

2 ¾ cup flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar (cream of tartar is also the secret ingredient to fabulous sugar cookies)

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

Fold into wet ingredients, mix well. Make a small bowl of cinnamon sugar by mixing approximately 2 Tablespoons sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Scoop into 1” balls, and roll each ball into cinnamon sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.


Oatmeal Cookie & Coffee - Image by letitaly from Pixabay

The lowly oatmeal cookie can easily elicit excitement for the coffee and cookie dunking crowd, or draw groans for children looking for something more thrilling than their breakfast cereal in a cookie. Oatmeal cookies have been popular for eons, however, because of their versatility. From stuffing them with raisins to the ever-popular chocolate chips, to just eating them plain or with a hint of cinnamon added, the only real expectation for oatmeal cookies is to have a chewy texture and a pleasingly subtle sweetness.

Here at our house we’ve adapted this classic to Oatmeal Scotchie status but with a secret ingredient that no one will notice or identify, but it will embolden the sweetness and upgrade the texture to oh-my-word goodness. Yum-yum-yum!

Favorite Oatmeal Cookies


1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup shortening (I usually use 1 stick of butter and ¼ cup actual shortening, made with meat fats)

¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon vanilla

In another bowl, mix together:

3 cups oatmeal

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup coconut (the secret ingredient. Even if you don’t like coconut, you’ll like these cookies.)

Add dry ingredients to wet. THEN, add ½ bag of butterscotch chips and mix well. I usually double this recipe to use the whole bag. Plus, I have a lot of grandchildren to help me eat them.


There you go. Copy and print these out for your recipe folder! 

If you are interested in more about the history of cookies in general, I recommend reading this thorough post from What’s Cooking America.

What are some of your favorite traditional or vintage cookies?

Do you know that on New Year’s Day, it’ll be one year since the release of Song for the Hunter? Here’s what one Amazon reviewer said: 

"Rife with tender romance and poetic prose, Musch leads readers through a cross-cultural love story that not only entertains but points to the hope that all of us seek—to be loved for ourselves and to give love in return. A finely tuned inspirational, historical romance, Song for the Hunter opens a window into the fur trade era of the 1700’s and portrays a realistic and insightful glimpse into the life of Ojibwe and M├ętis at that time in history." 

Haven't read it yet? Get it here!

To all the readers and fellow writers on Heroes, Heroines, and History, I pray you'll have a safe and blessed New Year! ~Naomi

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today, and I pray that you and yours experience a blessed New Year. As I sit here and eat my usual breakfast of peanut butter on toast, I thank you for making me crave Christmas cookies yet again!! So far, I have restrained myself. All of those recipes are drool-worthy.