With ice pellets or snow in the air tonight, and the temperature plunging, I decided to make Ginger Cookies. There is something warming about anything containing ginger. Mrs. Freeman contributed this recipe to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
This recipe reflects the era when women simply wrote down a list of ingredients and measures and didn’t bother with any instructions since they knew how to make cookies or cakes. I creamed the butter and sugar and added the medium egg. I mixed in the molasses and vinegar next and then dissolved the baking soda in some hot water and added it too. This is the first time I’ve ever seen vinegar added to a ginger cookie recipe! I mixed the ginger into the first cup of flour I added to the batter. In the end I added 2 1/2 cups of flour. This made a soft dough.
I don’t like rolling out cookie dough so I dropped teaspoons of the batter on the cookie sheets. I knew they would spread since there was a large proportion of butter in the recipe. I thought the butter in the mixture would keep everything from sticking but I didn’t want to clean up a mess on the cookie sheet . . . so I greased it. I baked the cookies for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
I don’t have access to the Automated Genealogy website tonight so Mrs. Freeman remains a mystery so far. Instead I’m starting with the Waterloo Region Generations website. I don’t think she is one of the Mennonite Freemans in Woolwich Township. Daniel and Josephine Freeman of Berlin would be around 60 when this cook book is published. He’s had a number of occupations and religious denominations by this point. He’d been a Methodist wagon maker and a Roman Catholic confectioner. Maybe it is Bertha and William A. Freeman. He’s a coachman for a private family and they are German Lutherans. Bertha Preiss was born in 1873 in Germany so she’s about 43 at the time of publishing. Most of the other male Freemans would be too old or too young and unlikely to be married when the Berlin Cook Book appeared.
Time to taste the cookies. They spread as I expected and the bottoms are a little greasy so next time I won’t grease the cookie sheet. The outside of the cookie is crisp and the inside is soft. I’ve spent years trying to find a recipe that makes ginger cookies like my paternal grandmother’s cookies. She died before I realized no one had the recipe. These cookies come the closest so far. They bend like hers and are thin too. I’m not sure the cookies turned out the way they should but I like them. I’d suggest trying on pan this way and then if you don’t like them go ahead and add at least another half a cup of flour especially if you plan to roll the dough. As a lazy baker I still won’t bother to roll them but again, if you want to try that, I’d suggest chilling the dough before rolling.
I’m very happy with Mrs. Freeman’s Ginger Cookies and will make them again.
1 cup sugar, 1 cup molasses, 1 cup butter, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 teaspoon soda dissolved in boiling water. Mix like cookie dough rather soft.