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XXFor collectors of wooden cookie and cake boards, the American cake board (or cake print) is one of the most rare acquisitions they can make. These molds are carved mostly from hardwoods native to the United States like cherry, pine and walnut. Exceptions to that rule are the mahogany cake boards created by noted American carver John Conger in the second quarter of the 19th century.

The recipe that follows is for New Year's Cake, which is formed by pressing the carved cake print into the dough. Don't let the word "cake" fool you, as this is a 19th century term and this recipe indeed makes a cookie of normal thickness. Three different 19th century recipes for New Year's Cake can be found below.

New Years's Cake (#1)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) lightly salted butter

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

5 cups pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

XXCream the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the sour cream. Add the caraway seeds. Sift the flour, soda, and cream of tartar together twice, then sift dry mixture into the batter and work it up into a dough. Ripen the dough in the refrigerator 1 to 2 days before using.

XXBreak off pieces of the dough and roll to a thickness of 1/2-inch. Press your wooden mold into the dough until it is no thinner than 1/4-inch thick. Cut out the cookies with a sharp knife and rework the dough trimmings into the unused batch. Continue until all of the dough is used. Set the cookies on greased baking sheets no less than 3/4 of an inch apart, and put the filled cookie sheets in a cool place overnight. This will dry the surface of the "pictures" so that they will not crack during baking. The next day, preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pale golden on the bottom.

This recipe was first published in the Receipt Book by Phebe W. Underhill in the second quarter of the 19th century. More recently this recipe was published in America Eats - Edible Forms of Edible Folk Art by William Woys Weaver, 1989.

Ca. 1820's Cake Board

The following two recipes for New Year's Cake have been graciously provided by Bonnie Slotnick of New York City. Bonnie owns Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks and she has a wonderful selection of early cookbooks, including the two books from which these two recipes were taken from.

xxStir together a pound of nice fresh butter, and a pound of powdered white sugar, till they become a light thick cream. Then stir in, gradually, three pounds of sifted flour. Add, by degrees, a tea-spoonful of soda dissaolved in a small tea-cup of milk, and then a half salt-spoonful of tartaric acid, melted in a large tablespoon of warm water. Then mix in, gradually, three table-spoonfuls of fine caraway seeds. Roll out the dough into sheets half an inch thick, and cut it with a jagging iron into oval or oblong cakes, pricked with a fork. Bake them immediately in shallow iron pans, slightly greased with fresh butter. The bakers in New York ornament these cakes, with devices or pictures raised by a wooden stamp. They are good plain cakes for children.

NOTE: This recipe was originally printed in Miss Leslie's Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, Eliza Leslie, 1827, and then again in Miss Leslie's New Cookery Book, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, T.B. Peterson, 1857.


xxSeven pounds of flour, two pounds and a half of sugar, two pounds of butter, and a pint of water, with a teaspoonful of volatile salts dissolved in it. Work the paste well; roll it thin and cut it in small cakes, with a thin cutter; lay them on tin plates in a quick oven, for fifteen minutes.

NOTE: This recipe dates to 1846 and was originally published in one of New York State's first agricultural journals, Luther Tucker's Genesee Farmer. The recipes in that journal were taken from various cookbooks of that period.

XXAs you can see on the Miscellaneous Molds pages, I do collect a few other types of molds aside from cookie and cake boards. I simply can't control myself when I come across unusual food molds, especially molds carved from wood. One of those mold types is the maple sugar mold. These molds, used for forming molten maple sugar, are still being used today and maple sugar candies can be found throughout many northern States and in New England. Now most of the molds are made from plastic, rubber or metal and they can be purchased new. For those of you who love these mapley morsels, here is a recipe to make them. This recipe also comes from America Eats - Forms of Edible Folk Art by William Woys Weaver, 1989.
Maple Candy

1 1/2 C. maple syrup (use real maple syrup, maybe grade A, Medium or Dark Amber, but NOT store bought maple syrup)

1 C. granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cook the syrup and sugar until the end of the thread stage (233°F). Remove from the heat and cool to 110°F. Do not stir. Add the butter and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy,or until the mixture will hold its shape in molds or pattypans. Butter the molds and fill with the candy. Let set, then unmold. Store in airtight containers.

Yield: Approximately 1 dozen patties or 1 pound of candy.

An 18th century engraving which depicts Native Americans making maple sugar. This engraving is taken from Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, compare'es aux moeurs des premier temps, published in Paris in 1724 by P. Lafitau (Royal Ontario Museum)