After yesterday’s rather strange cookies, I wanted some more typical cookies and found this recipe for Nut Cookies. The recipe was submitted to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book by Emma Schenk for Ayton Ontario. This community is still a rural village in Grey County and used to be part of Normanby Township. The 1901 census has 14-year-old Emma E. Schenk living here along with her parents (father is a farmer), five brothers and three sisters plus two male servants (probably farm hands). Based on the name and location that accompany the recipe, 18-year-old Emma was still single and living in Ayton when she submitted this recipe for a cook book in Berlin Ontario in 1905 or 1906. Since Emma is Lutheran and there are some Schenks here in Berlin, I assume there was a family or church connection that led this young woman to submit her delicious cookie recipe. I also wondered if she’d been working in Berlin in a factory or as a servant and still considered Ayton home. She’s no longer living with her parents in 1911 but I can’t find her so I imagine she had married by then. She does have two more siblings and there’s a baby with a different surname from anyone else in the household.
These cookies were easy to make. I did the usual by creaming the butter and sugar and then adding the eggs. I added the soda which I mixed into about 1/8th of a cup of water. I chopped the dates and nuts and added them to the flour along with the other dry ingredients. I added the mixture of dry ingredients and dates and nuts to the rest of the batter and stirred. I used a teaspoon to drop the cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet. The cookies baked in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
These are classic cookie jar cookies and I imagine Emma grew up with them. They were crispy round the edges and soft in the middle. The recipe makes a good-sized quantity of these filling and tasty cookies — perfect for a family like Emma’s. Modern cooks might find finicky children in 2012 turning up their noses at the dates or even the nuts but I imagine children of 1912 in Berlin loved these Nut Cookies. I have to admit this adult ate six of them in very short order. Modern cooks could experiment with the kind of nut and fruit combination as the cookie dough is a good base.
1 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon soda, dissolved in a little warm water, 1 cup dates, 1 cup walnuts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, chop nuts and dates, drop small quantities on buttered tins.