In 1837, Eliza Leslie followed up the publication of her
highly successful Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes,
and Sweetmeats (1828) with the larger work Directions
for Cookery in its Various Branches. This new volume
contained receipts for a wide variety of dishes and,
like its predecessor, went through numerous editions.
Although many of the receipts found in one or more
editions of Seventy-five were included in Directions,
many were not. Some, altho included, were greatly
altered. For instance, New-Year’s Cake (1836 ed.)
didn’t make it. Neither did New-York Cup Cake. Well,
at least not in the same form. What was included, or
rather, what it became, was New York Cookies.
Or did it?
New York Cookies.
Take a half-pint or a tumbler
full of cold water, and mix it
with half a pound of powdered
white sugar. Sift three pounds
of flour into a large pan and
cut up in it a pound of butter;
rub the butter very fine into
the flour. Add a grated nutmeg,
and a tea-spoonful of powdered
cinnamon, with a wine glass
of rosewater. Work in the sugar,
and make the whole into a stiff
dough, adding, if necessary,
a little cold water. Dissolve
a tea-spoonful of pearl-ash
in just enough of warm water
to cover it, and mix it in at the
last. Take the lump of dough
out of the pan, and knead
it on the paste-board till it
becomes quite light. Then
roll it out rather more than
half an inch thick, and
cut it into square cakes
with a jagging iron or with
a sharp knife. Stamp the
surface of each with a cake
print. Lay them in buttered
pans, and bake them of a
light brown in a brisk oven.
They are similar to what are
called New Year’s cakes, and
will keep two or three weeks.
In mixing the dough, you may
add three table-spoonfuls
of carraway seeds.
Now, the ingredients are almost the same as those used
for New-York Cup Cakes (see 1/27), except there are no
eggs. The above also calls for water instead of milk and
rosewater instead of wine. The ingredient amounts are
different. There’s also kneading involved. And, possibly,
caraway seeds! Notice the combination of cup (half-pint
tumbler) and weight measurements, and the abandonment
of the ingredient-list-first format, as well.
In addition, they may be called “cookies,” but having been
rolled out at “more than a half inch thick,” it would seem
that they’re rather cake-like. And yet, isn’t that just what
a cookie is? A small cake-like treat? After all, the word
“cookie” is the Americanization of the Dutch word “koekje,”
which means “small or little cake.” Remember, too, back
when looking at the various New Year’s Cake receipts
in previous posts, that I often mentioned the end results
were small cakes and, thus, were more like what we would
classify today as cookies.
Incidentally, notice that Leslie writes:
“They are similar to what are called New Year’s Cakes….”
“Similar.” Not “the same”!
In fact, she has one receipt for New-Year’s Cake and
a separate, and different, one for New-York Cup Cake
in the 1836 edition of Seventy-five. (Which was
the first time she offered up either one.)
So, despite the similarities between the New-York Cup
Cake and the New York Cookie receipts, I’d have to say
that they are not the same. Again, they’re two separate,
and different, receipts. The cup cakes didn’t so much
become cookies as they were replaced with them.