At least for me, this is where it all began. My earliest memories of Christmas cookie baking were set in my grandmother’s kitchen. She would mix the dough for the first of the many batches of Christmas cookies after the Thanksgiving company left. The first? Pepperkakor. To her they were the ones that took the most time and effort and would last the longest.
You might say that my grandmother was set in her ways. She refused, as well as I can remember, to use an electric mixer to even beat the eggs. Instead, she used a hand-turned beater for the eggs and blended the butter (or shortening) with the sugars using an old wooden spoon. I still use that wooden spoon to make cookies, but I cream the butter/shortening and sugars with an electric mixer. Then, she would stir in the flour and dry ingredients by hand.
The Pepperkakor dough would sit in the refrigerator overnight so that Friday we could go over to Grandma’s house and roll them out and bake them. Mom and Grandma took turns rolling out the dough. In many cases, though, it was just my grandmother rolling out the dough. She never thought my mother could get them thin enough. Grandma would roll them out to almost a paper thin sheet and then cut out hearts and stars. Never Santas or stockings or trees. Those shapes were saved for sugar cookies.
Mom was usually given the task of mixing the next batch of cookies while Gram rolled and baked.
As Gram cut out the shapes, she was careful not to leave much excess. The excess was put in a bowl and saved until all the dough had gone through a first roll. Then she would combine all the excess pieces and begin a second roll.
If the dough got too warm, it had to go back into the fridge. After the third roll out, I was usually given the excess pieces to use with my child’s rolling pin, cutters, and round metal pie tin for baking. And the baked rejects, those not quality enough to share with family and friends went into a sampling bowl.
This is my grandmother’s recipe. I have no idea where this came from as my grandmother had written it on an index card , my mother had transfered to another index card for her file, and I copied onto a third index card for my files from my mother’s card.
There are no mixing directions nor rolling and baking directions, but I have found that most of the recipes seem logical.
Cream the butter and sugar and Kayro syrup. Then, sift the dry ingredients together.( I don’t find that I need to sift the dry ingredients together for much of anything. This might be a baking flaw, but I usually fluff the flour before I gently place it in the measuring cup. Then I place the other dry ingredients in the same bowl and use a whisk to mix the ingredients together.) Stir in the dry ingredients until well mixed. Chill the dough overnight.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet.
The index card doesn’t give an oven temperature, nor does it give a length of time for baking. My guess is that the oven temp should be 350 degrees and the length would be determined by how thin you rolled the dough.
My grandma would check this by placing one or two cookies on a cookie sheet to see how long they should bake, and with a new recipe, to see if the dough spread.