The 1906 Berlin Cook Book, like many community cookbooks, contains many many recipes for sweet things. Among the dessert recipes is one called Bran Drops (p. 221) submitted by Mrs. Reitz. I decided to try this recipe today — perhaps it is the call of spring. Long ago people would use a variety of “purgatives” to cleanse the blood and intestinal systems after a long winter of salted, dried and fatty foods. There was more variety in winter food by 1906 but not to the extent of 2012.
I had my doubts about this recipe so I decided to use half the required amounts. I mixed a tablespoon of lard and a tablespoon of butter together and then added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. I wasn’t sure in the instructions if Mrs. Reitz wanted 4 tablespoons total of fat or 4 tablespoons of each fat. I decided to try the smaller amount first. The sugar and fat blended together as expected so I didn’t add any more butter or lard. I mixed in one egg and measured out a cup of 1 % milk with a teaspoon of vinegar in order to have sour milk. I decided to add the 1 cup of bran to the milk to soften it a little. I measured 2 cups of all purpose white flour along with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. I skipped the salt as I’d used salted butter. I mixed the flour and bran/milk mixture into the rest of the ingredients. It reminded me of bran muffin batter.
The recipe has no further directions so the rest of this is a reasoned guess based on the name “drop” and the typical cookie instructions in this cook book! I greased a baking sheet and dropped teaspoons of bran dough onto it. The pan went into a preheated 350 degree F. oven. I thought I should start checking them after 7 minutes. I ended up baking them for 9 minutes. I removed them before they browned as I worried they might be hard as rocks with a longer baking.
Mrs. Reitz’ Bran Drops are okay but should be considered more of a biscuit or bran muffin in flavour and texture than a cookie. A modern cook might want to add some flavouring and/or raisins or dates to make these a little more interesting. However, bran drops are a good choice for anyone looking for a healthier treat.
4 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter and lard (mixed), 2 eggs, 2 cups sour milk, 4 cups flour, 2 cups bran, 2 teaspoons soda, 1 pinch salt.