Tag Archives: Crisco

Another Contender for Grandma’s Cookies—Buttermilk Cookies

I shared my post for Serinakaker with the only two people left who might remember my grandma’s cookies, my brother and cousin. One remembered and one kinda didn’t, but my cousin has her mother’s recipe box that includes three new possibilities for the cookies, two of them variations of a buttermilk cookie. One of those two is labeled as Mums, giving it priority. The one that uses sweet milk is identical to the one labeled Mums, with an addition of cream of tartar.

I’ve made the one labeled as Irma’s three times now (some are in the freezer), twice with butter and once with vegetable shortening, which the recipe calls for, but which I was reluctant to use for taste reasons. I had been thinking, even when making the serinakaker, that butter might have been a luxury in my grandmother’s house. I’m guessing that by shortening, the recipes mean something like Crisco®, but it could just as easily have meant margarine, which, like butter, has some water in it—that does affect texture, as well as taste.

These cookies are softer than serinakaker, rising to a dome shape after being rolled into balls, but I found the texture to be a little more fine and uniform than I remember her cookies. I played around with the amounts of flour and found the lesser amount suggested (“try 5 or 6 cups”) to be more flavorful, especially without butter. With butter the dough is very sticky and you need a lot of flour in order to shape it. With shortening, the dough is quite easy to handle.

If you’re wondering whether there is a corresponding Norwegian cookie, I did find Kringla, which uses buttermilk. It is rolled into rope pieces and then formed into a pretzel or knot shape for baking. The cookies I made with Crisco could easily have been shaped that way. Some kringla recipes use both buttermilk and sour or sweet cream. You will find kringla claimed by both Norwegians and Swedes, not surprisingly.

But, who knows where my grandmother’s cookies originated? Her mother was a Gillingham and her grandmother was a Shreffler, conjuring up all sorts of other culinary possibilities. In the end, maybe they simply came out of a magazine or popular cookbook. You’ll notice that all three recipes on the cards are just called Cookies with reference to the relatives and friends who claim them.

When I make them again, and I will, but not until a holiday, I’m definitely going to try a knotted shape. That way you can distinguish them from the serinakaker, which I will also be making again. For now, I’m a little bit over cookies for a while. In the photos below, the first one shows cookies that had been scooped or rolled into balls, with no other shaping or topping. The second photo shows the same cookie, but with fork marks and decorating sugar. The third photo shows the fine texture of these cookies.

Here’s the recipe, as I made it:

Buttermilk or Sour Milk Cookies

  • Servings: about 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°; line cookie sheets with parchment paper, if desired.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (or butter for more flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup  buttermilk or soured milk (to one cup of sweet milk, stir in one tablespoon of white vinegar and let sit until it curdles)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  •  5-6 cups all purpose flour

Preparation

  1. Mix by hand or in a stand mixer. I used a stand mixer.
  2. Mix sugar and shortening until well combined, then beat in eggs.
  3. Slowly mix in soured milk and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt, then add to liquid mixture, mixing until smooth.
  5. If you used butter, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, so you can handle it. Otherwise, you should be able to shape the dough immediately, with or without floured hands.
  6. Roll the dough into large walnut sized balls and place on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake as is or do some shaping with a floured fork and decorating sugar.
  7. Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes. I think they’re better cooled, especially the next day, but that’s my preference for all cookies.

This cookie would make a good vehicle for frosting, if you’re into that sort of thing

Custard Pie

Jump ahead to New Year’s Day 2019 🎉 and I’m making the pies with the Serious Eats Easy Pie Dough, a butter crust, and I’m using coconut milk in the custard filling in place of half and half (since the lactose intolerance showed up).

The New Year’s Day meal is my husband’s favorite meal of the year, but more about that tomorrow. Today, I’m making the end of that meal—custard pie. It’s a creamy, cool finish to that heavy pork and sauerkraut main dish, and despite my husband’s infatuation with chocolate, I think he loves this pie more than all others.

This pie will never weep, if you follow the baking directions. It only takes 25 minutes to bake, but you must trust me that it will set completely without being baked into scrambled eggs.

Let’s start with the crust. Today, I decided to make the generic crust made with hydrogenated vegetable shortening, the only crust I made for many years. I have lard and butter on hand, but decided to just go old-school. It’s pretty much a no-fail dough, if you gauge the right amount of water, so it’s not dry and crumbly.

Pie Crust with Crisco®

  • Servings: one double crust or two single crust pies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Just halve ingredients for one pie.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons hydrogenated shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Stir flour and salt to distribute
  2. Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender. I find the shortening cuts in better with a fork, unlike cold butter.
  3. Add the water all at once and stir in with a fork until the dough comes together. If the dough seems too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is moist enough to hold together and feel pliable. I probably could have used one more tablespoon of water today, because one of my crusts tore before I got it in the pie dish, but it easily went back together with a little push. If you want to see prettier crusts, see my pumpkin pie post from last month. They were made with butter, but they baked too dark. Today’s came out better, if not as pretty.
  4. Roll dough about 1-2 inches larger than top rim of pan on a floured surface. My preference for rolling is a wooden pin with a knit rolling pin sock. With flour rubbed in to the sock, it never sticks to the dough.
  5. Roll the dough onto the pin, brushing off excess flour on the back. Unroll into pan and use your favorite crimping method. My pattern follows the curve on the top of my thumb from the nail to the knuckle.

Follow baking instructions with your pie recipe.

Custard Pie

  • Servings: 6-8 per pie
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 450°

This recipe is for one pie. It fills a 9″ dish well. Double for the two crusts, above. I mixed the filling separately for each pie, and baked them separately, because my oven has hot spots on the sides and that affects proper baking.

  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups half and half, heated in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes (do not boil)
  1. Whisk the eggs. I admit that I whisk the heck out of them, because I don’t want to see those little white protein strings in the mixture.
  2. Whisk in the sugar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla.
  3. Whisk in the scalded half and half.
  4. Pour into prepared pie crust. I cover my edges with foil before pouring in filling.

Baking Instructions

Preheat oven to 450°

Bake pie for 15 minutes, then turn heat to 350° and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Mine are always done after a total of 25 minutes.

Test for doneness by inserting a sharp knife point into the filling just 1″ from the edge—you can see the spot where I checked my pie in the photo. It should come out clean using these baking times.

Never wait for the center of the pie to be done in the oven or both you and your pies will weep.

Take the pie out when the edge of the filling is done and set to cool. The pie will be perfectly set before it’s completely cool. Don’t worry that it seems very jiggly in the center—it is mostly eggs, which can cook on a hot sidewalk, after all. Trust me.