(The first entry in this series gave four recipes for holiday breads and cookies.)
Many years ago, my grandmother exchanged recipes with her neighbors in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many have the name of the housewife who shared her treasured recipe, and a few were from her own mother (that is, my great-grandmother). We still have these recipes copied out in my mother's handwriting.
The problem is that at times the instructions are scanty. Such as, no temperature or time given for baking a cake. Well, geez Louise, everyone knows how to tell when a cake in done, right? It's the same directions, over and over, 350 or 400 degrees, 30 or 35 minutes unless you divided the batter into three layer tins, then it is about 20 minutes.
And the other problem is that so many younger women never even had home economics classes, so they have absolutely NO IDEA what the abbreviations or instructions mean. So I repeat the following basic instructions from the last time I ran a Recipe Exchange article. The recipes given here do not use yeast but I include info about using yeast anyway.
A capital T – like so – means Tablespoon. Also tbsp, also tbs.
A lower-case t – like so – means Teaspoon. Also tsp.
BEAT means to mix vigorously.
FOLD means to GENTLY mix the ingredients. You usually use a spatula instead of a spoon for this operation. Insert the spatula down into the bowl and lift up the mixture, folding it over onto the top of the mass of floury goodness. Do this just enough to more or less create an even distribution of ingredients, because some ingredients like a whipped mixture should NOT be beaten or they lose volume.
GREASING TINS: Baking tins should be greased before you pour the cake mix into them. This means using a small brush to apply margarine or butter to the inner surfaces of the tins; sometimes you also dust flour over the grease, too. Alternatively, you can just spray them with Pam, or cut circles of baking paper to fit your pans.
YEAST: Some of these recipes use yeast. If it is used in a dough, then you will have to let the cookies (such as the horns) sit on the baking sheet while they rise. Otherwise, it does not mean that making the recipe will take took much longer than one using baking powder or baking soda. Method: pour the packet of yeast into a little bowl of warm water, maybe a quarter cup. The water should NOT be hot; too hot water will kill the yeast before it can grow. You want the water to be just lukewarm. Add a bit of sugar and flour to feed the yeast beasties. When it looks bubbly, you know that it is growing and ready to be added to the rest of the ingredients. Happy yeast, happy bread and cookies. They have quick yeast now, too, which is much faster – but check your package label well.
A word about letting the dough rise. We used to set the covered bowl on a window sill that was getting sun. Alternatively you can set it inside the stove where it will not catch drafts. Stove should be off or at lowest setting.
TESTING FOR DONENESS: Some of you may have trouble knowing when items are done. Cookies will be pleasantly browned on top. Cakes are tested by sticking a toothpick into it; it if comes out clean instead of coated with batter, it is done. Loaves are similarly tested by sticking a clean knife into it, because you have to reach deeper inside. Cakes and loaves should also pull away from the edges of the pans.
The Good Part
Here are some mom-tested chocolate treat recipes. One for cookies, one for brownies, and one for a chocolate filling which may be used between cake layers, or inserted in cupcakes, etc.
#1 Hershey Brownies
(this is from the Hershey people)
½ cup butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
4 eggs, beaten in one at a time
1 large can of Hershey Chocolate Syrup
2 drops of red food coloring
1 c. plus 1 heaping T. flour
1 c. chopped nuts, any kind
Beat together thoroughly. Turn into jelly roll pan or 10 x 15 cookie sheet.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 25 min. OR place on a 9 x 13 pan for 33 min. Cool before frosting.
Frosting for Hershey Brownies
Combine: 1 and a half c. sugar, 6 T. milk, 6 T. butter. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Add ½ c. chocolate chips. Beat until mixture starts to thicken, about 1 min. Spread on brownies.
#2 Chocolate Cookies
(from Grandma B.)
1 c. sugar ½ c. molasses
½ c. chocolate syrup 1 c. shortening
1 t. ginger 1 egg
1 t. baking soda pinch salt
Mix and set in refrigerator.
Mix in 3 c. flour ONE CUP AT A TIME, then put in refrigerator again.
When you are ready to roll them, you may need to add a little more flour to get the right texture.
Take a quarter of your dough to roll out at first, and cut our cookie shapes with cookie cutters or with a juice glass.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 20-25 min. or until done. May depend on size of cookies and your oven.
#3 Chocolate Cake Filling
2/3 c. sugar ½ c. hot water
1 T. cocoa ½ c. cold water
¼ t. vanilla 1 T. oleo/margarine/butter
1 T. cornstarch
Bring sugar, cocoa, and hot water to a boil for 1 min. Mix cornstarch with cold water and add to hot syrup. Boil until thick. Remove from heat and add butter (or margarine) and vanilla. Let cool.
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Holiday Special
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Chocolate Treats
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Chocolate Cakes
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: 7-Minute Frosting & More
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Rhubarb
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Danish Kringle