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Moravian Christmas Cake (Cookies)

This North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery recipe for the Moravians thin ginger cookies was first published in 1955. To learn more about Moravian cookies and the culinary traditions in Old Salem, read A Holiday Dusted in Sugar in our Travel section. mrshanescutting

3/4 cup butter and lard or shortening, mixed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 pint black molasses
7 1/2 cups sifted flour
4 Tbsp. ground cloves
4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. soda
1/4 cup boiling water

Cream butter and lard with sugar. Add molasses. Sift flour with spices and salt. Add soda to boiling water. Add flour mixture and soda water to creamed mixture. Work well with the hands. Call in the man of the house (surely this step is optional) and let him work the dough if your hands are weak. That’s what Grandma used to do.

Cover and store in a cold place overnight, preferably longer. Roll to infinite thinness on board. Bake on greased cookie sheets in moderate oven, 375 degrees, for a very few minutes or just until they begin to brown.

Note: This recipe calls for a hefty quantity of ingredients and produce batches and batches of cookies. If you’re considering whipping up a batch yourself, consider reducing the recipe by half.

Photo credits, from top: Tin of Moravian cookies and cutting dough at Mrs. Hanes courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem

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  • Julie / December 15, 2014

    I was just wondering if the 4 tablespoon measurement on the spices was correct. I’ve searched out several and I come up with a recipe with the exact measurements in all the other ingredients. I found the same recipe in the Southern Heritage library and the measurement is only 2 tablespoons of each spice.

    • Marsha Ramsdell / November 8, 2021

      The recipe calls for 3/4 cup butter and lard or shortening, mixed. Does that me 3/4 Cup of butter + 3/4 Cup lard?

  • Debbie / November 22, 2020

    Is this self risen flour or plain