As we wait for the debut of the new edition of the Maryland’s Way Cookbook, we will be highlighting the favorite recipes of our staff and volunteers. This week, Hammond-Harwood House trustee Dr. Charles Webb was kind enough to share his thoughts on the recipe for Albany Cookies:
The Albany Cookie or cake is a simple sugar and cinnamon cookie that became a Christmas treat in early colonial times in tidewater Maryland. It was such a part of the holiday season that it persisted in many families well into the late twentieth century. While it is delicious, it is by today’s terms a very basic cookie. On the Eastern Shore it was made by the Goldsborough family at Otwell so far back that its origin and the reason for the name are obscure. When one of the Goldsborough daughters married a member of the Holliday family at Readbourne on the Chester River, the cookie went there. But it was also used by the Lloyds and probably many families all around the Bay.
Perhaps the fact that cinnamon and sugar were precious commodities in early colonial days is the reason for its popularity. It is an easy cookie to make. Because it is formed into a bow (or pretzel) shape, the making of the cookie can become a family event. Children from 5 or 6 on can shape their own cookie for baking.
If you want to sample an historic holiday specialty try this recipe. It will be in the new edition of the Maryland’s Way cookbook… It is good any time of the year!
Readbourne, the home of Elizabeth Tilghman Hollyday, who contributed the Albany Cookie recipe to the Maryland’s Way cookbook
6 cups flour (sifted), 1 lb. dark brown sugar, ½ lb. butter or margarine,
1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 cup cream (or 1 scant cup evaporated milk),
2 oz. cinnamon (10 tablespoons), salt, granulated sugar to roll cookies in.
Mix flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Dissolve soda in the cream in measuring cup. Cream the softened butter, add brown sugar and beat well. Add egg and beat well again. Alternately add flour and milk, mixing until all ingredients are incorporated. A pinch of salt may help. Cover the dough in a bowl and cool overnight.
To bake, divide dough into about 8 or 10 pieces. Take out one piece at a time, pinch off a small piece and roll on a sugar coated board with hands till about the shape and size of a pencil, coating the surface with the sugar. Loop the ends around to overlap the center of the roll making a bow or pretzel shape, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool, then rap on underside of cookie sheet to loosen them. Enjoy a traditional Eastern Shore Christmas treat from an early era when cinnamon and sugar were scarce.