Welcome to Part II of December's Cooking from the Collections feature! This month, our intrepid recipe testers tried their hand at old fashioned sweets. The treats included Martha Washington’s recipe for sugar cookies, a boozy 1950’s rum pudding, and a gingerbread cookie that might have been a favorite of James Smithson. Who do you think would win a holiday bake-off? The founder of the Smithsonian, our very first First Lady or an aspiring June Cleaver? Today we present the remaining two recipes. Click over to Friday's post to learn more about James Smithson's gingerbread.
Martha Washington’s Sugar Cookies
Before there was Martha Stewart in the kitchen, there was Martha Washington. Thanks to a transcription by Karen Hess of Martha Washington’s Booke of cookery, anyone can whip up the the original First Family’s favorite treats for the holidays. Not only does Hess dutifully transcribe Martha Washington’s personal cookbook, she also translates ingredients and cooking methods for modern times. These basic cookies (callled "cakes" by Martha) were really rather plain, but could easily be spruced up with vanilla or lemon zest or festive royal icing. If nothing else, they’ll make an excellent conversation starter. Do you think George was a fan of sweets? That might explain the teeth.
Adapted from Martha Washington’s Booke of cookery, transcribed by Karen Hess. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Makes about 30 cookies.
— Erin Rushing
Swedish Rum Pudding
This recipe is from Elegant Desserts , published by Culinary Arts Institute, the same folks that brought us The Casserole Cookbook, previously discussed here. Of course I wanted to serve it with lingonberries they are Scandinavian and besides it would also mean a trip to IKEA and it doesn’t get more Swedish than that. Overall, this dish did turn out. To some the rum maybe overpowering but it had just enough.
Adapted from the Elegant Dessert pamphlet published by the Culinary Arts Institute 1955.
— Ninette Dean