Friday, September 6, 2019

Lemon Cookies Recipe (The Boston Globe, December 1895), demonstrated by Kristin Holt

Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (The Boston Globe, December 1895), demonstrated by Author Kristin Holt
USA Today Bestselling Author of Sweet Romance set in the Victorian-American West

When I stumbled across a beautiful vintage cookie recipe in an 1895 edition of The Boston Globe, I knew I'd found a treasure. I'd already researched numerous cookie recipes published in the Victorian-era United States. Added to that basic knowledge, I'd delved into Victorian Sugar Cookies (that's where cookies began, after all). That background showed me how Victorian-Americans put together a cookie recipe that provides ingredients and quantities--but no instructions.

Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (The Boston Globe, December 15, 1895). Recipe submitted by "D.E.J." reads: "Lemon Cookies. one cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 eggs, 6 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of soda, 1 lemon, grate the yellow and strain the juice; flour to roll."
Vintage Lemon Cookies Recipe from The Boston Globe, December 15, 1895.
What fun to bake cookies in the manner my great-great grandmother did! I made them by hand, the way everyone did prior to the amazing invention of KitchenAid stand mixers.

Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies (1895) step 1: Gather ingredients. Soften butter.
1) Gather ingredients. Allow butter to come to room temperature. This is important!

Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895) step 2: allow eggs (and lemon) to come to room temp, too.
2) Allow eggs (and lemon) to come to room temperature, too.
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895) Step 3: Whip eggs briskly with a fork until light and bubbly.
3) Whip eggs in a separate bowl (with a fork) until frothy.
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895). Step 4: Cream Butter by hand!
4) Cream butter (alone) in mixing bowl, using wooden spoon.
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), Step 5: Cream butter and sugar with wooden spoon.
5) Cream (already creamed) butter together with sugar.
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895): image of butter and sugar creamed together.
6) Butter and sugar creamed together by hand.
Kristin Holt ] Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895) - combining egg into creamed butter and sugar (by hand)
7) Add whipped eggs into creamed butter and sugar. See the progression in three photos. Be patient!
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), image 8: Zest the yellow from the lemon.
8) Wash, dry, then zest the yellow from the lemon peel (before juicing!) Victorians used a grater.
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), image 9: photos illustrate why it's easier to zest the lemon prior to juicing it.
9) photographs illustrate why it's easier to zest the lemon prior to juicing it. Can you imagine trying to remove the zest from the empty lemon half?
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), Image 10- Add zest to batter and begin stirring in *sifted* flour.
10) Add zest to batter, and begin stirring in measured flour. Play along here with Victorian baking methods, even if your flour sack says it's sifted. Yes, Victorians had sifters!
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), image 11- add baking soda into the sifter with one of the measured batches of flour.
11) Add baking soda into one of the batches of measured flour, through the sifter. Sift the flour into the mixing bowl. (I did three batches of flour, 2 cups in each batch). (Don't get ahead of yourself--see pic 12 before you're done with the flour.)
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), step 12- Add lemon juice alternately with flour.
12) Add all strained juice from the lemon, alternately with flour.
13) Continue stirring by hand...
14) ... until all (measured and sifted) flour is incorporated. You may need to use your hands at the very end.

Dough will be very much like homemade sugar cookie dough. Notice the dough picks up all the loose flour. It's not too sticky. It's also not too dry. One way to avoid an overly dry cookie dough is to add the flour slowly, perhaps half a cup (last cup or two) at a time, allowing you to decrease the total flour used, as necessary, to create a workable dough.

Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895), step 15- Roll out on floured "board", cut, sugar the tops (and press into dough), Bake (375 degrees, 8 mninutes). DO NOT BROWN.
15) Roll out dough on a clean and floured "board", about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out. (I sprayed my pans; recipe doesn't say. Grandma probably would've buttered her tins.) Cookies don't spread hardly at all, so tuck them in close as needed.
Kristin Holt | Lemon Cookies Recipe (1895) - Pic 16- Finished product shown in photos, both tops and bottoms to show that cookies should not be browned.
16) Bake in a preheated (375-degree) oven for 8 minutes. I didn't allow the cookies to brown. They set up (when cooled) as a softer sugar-cookie with beautiful form, delicate flavor, and the not-too-sweet result Victorian bakers expected.

NOTE: After I baked these tasty, "wholesome" (yes, indeed, Victorian bakers would say so) cookies, I looked up how to ensure homemade baked goodies with natural lemon flavor have the most lemon numminess possible. How? With salt. Apparently, salt works wonders with the lemon acidity, making the flavor pop. If I could change ONE thing about this 124-year-old recipe, it would be the addition of 1/2 tsp. of table salt.


We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down and comment.

Related Articles:

I  have so many more Victorian baking articles to share with you. Please pay me a visit at any of these Vintage baking posts:
Kristin Holt | Sugar Cookies in Victorian America

Kristin Holt | Victorian Fare: Cookies

Kristin Holt | Victorian Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Kristin Holt | Peanut Butter in Victorian America (with peanut butter cookies)
with peanut butter cookies!
Kristin Holt | Old Time Recipe: Shortbread

Kristin Holt | Victorian Cooking: The Sifter - An American Victorian Invention?

Within each of these Victorian-era United States baking blog posts you'll find links to many similar articles. I hope you'll enjoy browsing, and baking!

by Kristin Holt:

Kristin Holt - Sweet American Historical Romance and Historical Articles, USA Today Bestselling Author
Visit Kristin Holt's ARTICLES or page about BOOKS
Kristin Holt | Contributing Author to Sweet Americana Sweethearts, Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author.
Visit Kristin's ARTICLES on Sweet Americana Sweethearts.

Copyright © 2019 Kristin Holt LC


  1. This recipe sounds delicious, the cookies look cute and I bet they are really good! <3 I bet your kitchen smelled really nice when you were baking them! Thank you for sharing your Lemon cookie recipe. Have a Great weekend. God Bless you.

    1. Hi Alicia (waves!) --
      Thanks so much for your kind words. These lovely lemon cookies smelled and tasted wonderful! They're almost better on day 2. (We kept them tightly covered.)
      Wishing you a wonderful weekend, too.
      Many thanks,
      Kristin Holt