The recipe occurs toward the end of a manuscript cookbook belonging to the Ohio State Historical Society and acquired with a group of Quaker manuscripts from Selma, Ohio. A transcription was published in MississippiValley Historical Review in 1948. The author, who may have had the initials F.B.E. or H.B.B., had probably moved to Ohio from Virginia, as the book begins with about twenty recipes similar to recipes in The Virginia Housewife, by Mary Randolph, first published in 1824. She then copied almost twenty recipes exactly from the Randolph book, among some others. In the middle of this part of the manuscript she wrote down a non-Randolph recipe with a date of February 1828. However, the last twenty-five recipes in the book show influences of the Ohio settlers: a "Yankee" gingerbread, a sweetened custard cheese that may derive from Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, and this Virginia-style recipe for "small cakes." I have added some details from an 1847 recipe for Marguerites in The Southern Gardener and Receipt Book.
"To one and half lbs of Flour add one lb of Sugar one lb of butter six Eggs leaving out four whites Spice to your taste Mace or Nutmeg Roll these cakes out thin put in the oven and bake nearly done - then take them out and lay them on a dish to cool - Whip the four whites to a froth and make them thick with powdered sugar, adding a few drops of Essence of lemon put Sweetmeats of stiff jelly on the top of each Cake and with a spoon fill the Icing up high on the Cakes return them to the oven and bake them of a light brown."
Yield: 50-60 cookies
4-1/2 cups sifted white flour, plus more to flour board
1 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons wheat germ
4 cups sugar
6 medium eggs or 4 extra large eggs
1 pound butter
1 tablespoon nutmeg or mace
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar
Quart jar strawberry jam or currant jelly
Equipment: Pastry blender or large fork, rolling pin and wood board, 2 or more baking sheets, wire racks, wire whip or hand beater, spatulas
1. An hour before beginning, remove butter from refrigerator to soften.
2. Separate eggs by pouring from shell to shell over a cup. Put the first 4 whites in a medium bowl, and the first 4 yolks into a small bowl. Crack the last 2 eggs into the cup, and add to the yolks. (If using extra large eggs, separate the first 3, and use the 4th with the yolks.)
3. Beat egg yolks until light and creamy.
4. Measure out the flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and spice, and sift together.
5. Cream butter and sugar together with pastry blender or large fork.
6. Combine butter mixture and egg yolks in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
7. Stir in flour mixture until you have a lump of dough.
8. Use remaining flour mixture (or just flour) to flour board and rolling pin.
9. Turn dough out onto board, and work a little until smooth. Roll out 1/2-inch thick and cut rounds with a drinking glass or biscuit cutter.
10. Flour baking sheets, and arrange biscuits so as not to touch.
11. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Copyright © 2003, 2004 by Mark H. Zanger. Remember, there is no copyright on recipes or other common household formulae, but copyright and fair use laws do apply to selection of recipes and cultural-historical commentary.