These cookies can be considered gingerbread cookies, and originally were named as such. They resemble the molasses cookies made by Archway; they use relatively little ginger and are thus not as spicy hot as gingerbread cookies from many other recipes. They are usually somewhat soft and not at all gooey, being halfway between crumbly and chewy. They are generally not crisp, but can be slightly crisp if thoroughly cooked. The recipe works for both drop cookies and rolled cookies, with a bit of adjustment to the amount of flour.
The known history of this recipe starts from eavesdropping on a party-line telephone during the early 1900s. The age of this recipe appears to explain many odd features. At the time, baking powder did not exist. Thus this recipe uses baking soda, with sour milk (now created via vinegar, so don't panic) as the acid. Ginger would have been expensive. The recipe originally called for an undefined amount of flour that turned out to be around 8 cups (½ gallon), which would feed a family of a dozen or so. The recipe has been cut in half for the benefit of less-productive parents.
- Grease or parchment-line some cookie sheets.
- Combine the vinegar and milk.
- Combine the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and 2½ cups of flour.
- Cream together the sugar and shortening until well-combined, then beat in the molasses and egg until smooth.
- Alternately mix in the dry and milk mixtures, starting and ending with the dry mixture.
- Bit by bit, mix in more flour as needed. For drop cookies, you might not add any more. For rolled cookies produced without refrigeration, you are likely to need an extra 1½ cup for a total of 4 cups. Refrigeration can reduce this slightly.
- Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Form the cookies.
- If making drop cookies, scoop some batter onto the prepared cookie sheet. Using a bit of sugar to prevent sticking, squish the cookie with a glass. Press some toppings into the top of the cookie.
- Plop a pint-sized blob of batter onto a flour-dusted surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour as you squish it down, then roll it out. A cold marble rolling pin is suggested. Cut out shapes, then place them on the cookie sheet. The unused dough may be put back into the mix; note that this increases the proportion of flour.
- Bake cookies for 8–10 minutes at 375°F.