Posted in Baking With My Ancestors

Baking with My Ancestors: School Lunch Peanut Butter Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of baking during this stay at home time.  I love to bake anyway, but having to stay home on the weekends is making me more creative in the kitchen. Last week, I decided to take my baking skills to Facebook Live and share some recipes.  When deciding what to bake, I wanted to include my love of genealogy and history.  If you know me, then you know that baking and history are my two biggest passions.  Any time I can combine the two make me a very happy girl!

I stumbled across this recipe and read the history behind it.  It seems that peanut butter cookies (and this recipe in particular) became very popular during the Great Depression.  A time I feel that we can all relate to at the moment.  Peanut Butter became a star because it was a great source for protein and B vitamins.  Vegetable shortening was used because it was much less expensive than butter.

Peanut Butter cookies can thank lunch room ladies for their new-found popularity during the Great Depression and the years following.  Women were going to work and many of them found employment in the lunch room of schools.  The lunch ladies wanted an inexpensive, but nutritional, way to give the kids a treat.  Enter the peanut butter cookies.  Cookies were made in bulk on Monday and stored to be used through out the week.  The cookies had a longer shelf life than the average cookie, which lended itself to the penny-pinching mindset of the time.

Below, you’ll find a recipe for the School Lunch Peanut Butter cookie.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!  I’d love to see your finished product too!  Post a picture in the comments or on Social Media!  Make sure to tag @coolgirlgenealogy

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can be light or dark)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons for pressing into the top of the cookies
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

How-To

  1. Place rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F.  Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
  2. Place the peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy, about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla and egg, and beat on medium-low until the mixture is smooth, about 45 seconds.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Whisk together the sifted flour, soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl and turn this into the peanut butter mixture.  Beat with the mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Drop the dough in 1″ pieces spaced about 3″ apart on the pans.  Press the top of each ball twice with a fork dipped in the remaining granulated sugar, creating a crosshatch pattern.  Place one pan at a time in the oven.
  5. Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

(recipe c/o American Cookie cookbook)

Posted in Baking With My Ancestors

Baking With My Ancestors – Coca Cola Cake

When I was deciding on what to bake this month, I knew it had to be something from my Grandmother.  June is her birthday month (June 16, to be exact) and it seemed only fitting to bake from a recipe that she has passed down to me. I choose Coca Cola cake not only because of the hand-written recipe, but also because it’s traditionally southern, much like my Grandmother.

IMG_0757

Nobody knows exactly where Coca Cola cake originated.  Some say it was by a housewife looking for a new spin on a chocolate cake.  Others say it was created by Coca Cola themselves as a clever way to market their drink in other ways.  The only thing everyone can agree on is that it was invented in the South.  The Coca Cola Company’s headquarters are, after all, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Coca Cola cake it not made like a traditional cake.  If you find it a bit lumpy at moments, that’s okay!  Also, when you are finished with the batter, it may appear a bit runny.  That’s okay too!  While this cake may have some unusual steps, it’s tough to mess it up.  That’s the best thing about this recipe…even the mistakes taste yummy!

IMG_0759

A note before you get started, the frosting will be applied to the cake while both the cake and frosting are still warm!

Ingredients (batter)

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup Coca Cola
  • 1 cup Butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups Marshmallows (I used mini marshmallows)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

How to make the Batter

  1. Grease and flour 9×13 inch cake pan and set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Stir to combine.
  4. In a saucepan, combine cocoa, Coca Cola, butter, and marshmallows and bring to a boil.
  5. Combine the boiled mixture with the flour/sugar mixture and set aside.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla.  Add to the mixture in the large bowl.
  7. Pour mix into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Cake will be ready when a toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients (frosting)

  • 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons Cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons Coca Cola
  • 1 box Confectioner’s Sugar
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup Nuts (use your preference for type of nuts and how much)

How to make the Frosting

  1. In a saucepan, bring butter, cocoa, and Coca Cola to a boil.
  2. Stir in the sugar and mix well.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts.
  4. Spread over the cake while both are still warm.

You’ll want the Frosting to set before you serve it.  Once it does, dig in and enjoy!

IMG_0762

Posted in Baking With My Ancestors

Baking With My Ancestors – Irish Brown Bread

As I was making the list of all the baked goods I wanted to make for this new series, Irish Brown Bread was at the top.  It’s sooo good and sooo easy to make!  While I was in Ireland a few years ago, I ate Irish Brown Bread for breakfast every day.  It’s tasty with butter and jam, but even on it’s own, it’s yummy!

When people think of Ireland and bread, the mostly think of soda bread.  I’ll admit, I did too…until I tried the brown bread.  Irish Brown Bread became popular in 1840s when refined baking soda was introduced to the country.  The bread became ingrained in the every day lives of the people in Ireland and very important to the Irish culture!

After I got home from Ireland, the first thing on my list was to figure out how to make authentic Irish Brown Bread.  I found a few examples online, but I felt like they weren’t just right.  I found a bakery on Instagram, Kelly Lou Cakes (@kellyloucakes) and just happened to find her making the bread in her Insta-stories.  I went out on a limb and sent her a message asking her to share the recipe.  I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but to my surprise, she shared it!  So…below is Kelly Lou’s recipe for Irish Brown Bread…straight from Ireland!

IMG_0956

Irish Brown Bread Recipe

Ingredients

(note the measurements are in weight/European)

  • 700g Coarse Wholemeal Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Wheat Germ
  • 2 teaspoons Bran
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 800mL Buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp Oil

Steps

  1. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Mix the Flour, Germ, Bran, Baking Soda and Salt together.
  4. Add the Buttermilk and Eggs.  Stir to combine.
  5. Add the Oil and still until just combined.
  6. Pour the bread mixture into the two loaf pans
  7. Bake for 50 minutes or until bread is a golden brown.

That’s it!  When cooled, slice and enjoy it!  If you have any questions about the recipe, feel free to send me an email!