As you know, this time last week I made an abundance of baked products for a bake sale. There are two in particular that I would like to comment on.
1. Date Filled Windows.
These little ditty's came out of a Farm Journal's Cookie recipe book that Matt gave me for my Birthday last year. Published in 1971 it features truly riotous copy such as "Keep your cookie jar filled with these for a good hostess reputation" or "a favorite of men." BUT patriarchy aside, their are some damn good cookies in this volume.
Due to an abundance of dates left over from a presentation on Islam, I decided to make "Date Windows." Like any "window" cookie you make a dough, roll it out, create two circular cookies and then cut a shape out of one. You place filling on the uncut circle, place the cut circle on top and press the two together. Thanks to my mama, I had some darling fall themed cookie cutters with which to create these windows. So my date window cookies featured apple, pumpkin and leaf shaped windows.
Here is what shocked me. THESE SUCKERS SOLD LIKE HOT CAKES. I sold out of Date Windows in 20 minutes, and then had perfect (if I do say so myself) chocolate chip cookies and Snickerdoodles a al SmittenKitchen sit for another 3 hours. And I don't think it was just their charm. People were all about the dates, and the nostalgia of this kind of cookie.
adapted from Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies (1971, p. 159)
*The adaptation here is that I use self-rising flour. I find that self-rising flour for standard cookie recipes works great, cuts down on a little measuring and provides a softer cookie. If you're a purist, the original calls for 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
For the Filling:
2 cups finely cut or ground dates
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. lemon or orange zest
For the Cookie:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
Mix shortening, sugar and sugar until combined. Add eggs and whisk until light and pale yellow colored. Stir in vanilla and incorporate thoroughly. Blend flour into mixture. Dump dough out onto a square of cling wrap, wrap up dough and chill for at least an hour, but can be chilled overnight.
In the mean time prepare filling. Combine dates, water and sugar in a saucepan. Cook slowly over medium heat until mixture thickens. When thick, stir in zest and let cool. This can easily be stored in the refrigerator over night or for several days.
When dough is chilled, flour a surface and rolling pin. Roll dough out very thin, about 1/16th of an inch. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut out circles from dough. Place half the circles on a greased cookie sheet. Spoon a generous tsp. full of date mixture into the center of these circles. Cut out a shape with a cookie cutter or smaller glass from the remaining circles. Gently place these on the date covered circles, and seal the edges by pressing down firmly with your finger tips.
Bake in a 400 degree oven until cookies are just barely browned. Allow to cool on cookie sheet. Share with folks who are classy and appreciate dates (the fruit! the fruit.).
I also made a number of cardamom rolls for the bake sale. Now, these did not sell quite as well - but that is because people are afraid of what is different (an excuse? maybe.) Needless to say I ended up with an abundance of left over rolls - and Matt and I have been slowly making our way through them. My favorite new method of cardamom roll consumption? Heating the roll in the microwave for about 20sec, and then gingerly tearing it open to stuff a piece of hard salami inside. Delicious. Perfect breakfast. I think the Finns would be proud.
Adapted from Beatrice A. Ojakangas The Finnish Cookbook (1989, p. 34).
Makes at least 2 1/2 dozen
For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast (or 1/2 tbsp).
2 cups milk, lukewarm
1 cup white sugar
7-8 Cardamom pods, crushed (you can use already ground - but the flavor is not quite the same)
4 eggs, beaten
8-9 cups white flour
1/2 cup butter
Mix the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, eggs and 1 cup flour to make a thin batter. In a separate bowl stir the yeast into 2 cups of flour. Add the milk batter to the yeast and flour and incorporate thoroughly. Add two more cups of flour and continuing working in until the dough is smooth and glassy. Add the melted butter and incorporate entirely.
Then, continue adding flour until the dough becomes to difficult to stir. At this point dump dough out onto a floured surface and kneed until smooth and only barely sticky. You can continue adding flour if necessary. When dough holds it's shape well (without "oozing" or spreading) place in a greased (can be greased with canola oil, butter, etc.) bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. When dough has doubled, punch down and let rise again.
After second rise, form your rolls. Pull small knobs of dough and shape into round balls by rolling between your palms. Placed on a greased baking sheet and cover with clean towel. Let rise until doubled (about 20 minutes). If desired, brush with egg. Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes. When rolls come out they should easily bounce back when pressed on. This dough is EASY to over bake which causes it to dry out, so be careful.
Let rolls cool completely and then keep in a bread box or airtight bag.