England, 16th c.
England, 17th c.
Recipe by Daniel Myers
This is the earliest cookie-like recipe I have come across. The version from "The English House-wife" is a bit odd in that it does not contain any fat or leavening, which makes me think it would turn out to be more of a cracker than a cookie. Note that if you add too much clove and mace the end result will taste disturbingly like ketchup.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. rosewater
1 Tbsp. yeast
If using dry yeast, activate it by placing it in a small bowl with 1/2 tsp. of sugar and 2 Tbsp. of water.
Put flour, sugar, and spices into a bowl and mix well. Cut in butter until it forms small crumbs. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks well with the rosewater and 1 Tbsp. of the foam that forms on the top of the yeast. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until it forms a soft dough. If mixture is too dry add a little water. If too wet, knead in a little flour.
Roll or press dough on a floured surface into a thin sheet - about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rectangles, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake at 350°F until golden brown - about 15 minutes.
Makes ~2 dozen 1" x 2" cookies.
To make fine Cakes. Take fine flowre and good Samaske water you must haue no other liquour but that, then take sweet butter, two or three yolkes of egges and a good quantity of Suger, and a fewe cloues, and mace, as your Cookes mouth shall serue him, and a lyttle saffron, and a little Gods good about a sponfull if you put in too much they shall arise, cutte them in squares lyke vnto trenchers, and pricke them well, and let your ouen be well swept and lay them vppon papers and so set them into the ouen, do not burne them if they be three or foure dayes olde they bee the better.
Take a pottle of fine flower, and a pound of Sugar, a little Mace, and good store of water to mingle the flowers into a stiff paste, and a good season of Salt, and so knead it, and roul out the Cakes thin, and bake them on papers.