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XXThe town of Ceský Krumlov in the Czech Republic has a long standing tradition of gingerbread making dating back to the early 17th century. One thing that makes these honey-gingerbread cookies stand out from others is that they are topped with a white icing after they are baked. The recipe that follows is a bit vague, but with a little trial and error you can make a delicious cookie. Of course the recipe calls for "carving" out the designs, but the tradition in this town has always been to mold the dough in wooden cookie boards. This recipe comes courtesy of the Town of Ceský Krumlov's website.
Honey Gingerbread from Ceský Krumlov

1 1/3 C. rye flour

2/3 C. sugar

1/2 C. honey

2 eggs

spice(aniseed, clove, cinnamon)

gingerbread baking powder(normal baking powder)

The dough is treated on a pastry board, sieve the flour and add the other ingredients. Make a rather tough dough and carve out the shapes; bake them on a thoroughly greased baking sheet. After cooling, decorate the gingerbread with white icing.

late 20th century cookie board

XXWhen you think shortbread, you have to think Scotland. These buttery, crisp cookies (or biscuits as they are called in Scotland) are made in most Scottish kitchens and not always in the common variety. There are many variations from the standard shortbread, including Pitcaithy Bannock which calls for almonds, caraway seeds and candied peel. No matter which variety you choose to make, always use butter and never margarine, as butter adds better flavor and makes for better consistency in the dough. Wooden shortbread molds are traditionally used to form the dough. You will find two different shortbread molds in my collection and though the old molds are hard to find, there are newly carved molds available from Scottish woodcarvers. Here's an interesting note; most Americans are familiar with Lorna Doone cookies when it comes to shortbread. The original wooden mold used to make Lorna Doone cookies was carved by Boudewyn DeKorne in the early 1900's, in his furniture shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. DeKorne emgirated from the Netherlands in the 1880's and went on to establish the DeKorne Furniture Co., which is still in business today.

I will provide two different recipes, one for the more elaborate Scots Shortbread and one for the more traditional Ayrshire Shortbread. Both recipes come from the book, The Scots Kitchen - It's Traditions and Lore with Old-Time Recipes, published in 1929 and authored by F. Marian McNeill. The recipes here are just as they are in the book, so read through them very carefully before starting the dough. (Thanks to Dr. Alice Ross of Alice Ross Hearth Studios for leading me to this book)

SCOTS SHORTBREAD

(A Festive Cake at Hogmany)

flour, rice flour, butter, castor sugar

XXThe butter and sugar should first be blended. Put eight ounces of butter and four ounces of castor sugar(granulated sugar) on a board, and work with the hand until thoroughly incorporated. Mix eight ounces of flour with four ounces of rice flour, and work gradually into the butter and sugar, until the dough is of the consistency of short crust. Be careful that it does not become oily (a danger in hot weather) nor toughened with over-mixing. The less kneeding, the more short and crisp the shortbread. Do not roll it out, as rolling too has a tendency to toughen it, but press with the hand into two round cakes, either in oiled and floured shortbread moulds or on a sheet of baking paper. The most satisfactory thickness is three-quarters of an inch for a cake eight inches in diameter, or in such proportion. If you make a large thick cake it is advisable to protect the edges with a paper band or hoop, and to have several layers of paper underneath and possibly one on top. Pinch the edges neatly all round with the finger and thumb, and prick all over with a fork. Decorate with "sweetie" almonds (for small cakes, caraway comfits may be used) and strips of citron or orange peel. Put into a fairly hot oven, reduce the heat presently, and allow the shortbread to crisp off to a light golden brown.

Print - Biscuit Factory

England - 1874

click here to view large image

AYRSHIRE SHORTBREAD

(Traditional Recipe)

flour, rice flour, castor sugar, butter, egg, cream

XXSieve four ounces of flour and four ounces of rice flour into a basin and rub in four ounces of butter with the finger-tips. Add four ounces of castor sugar (granulated sugar) and bind the mixture to a stiff consistency with the beaten yolk of an egg and two tablespoonfuls of cream. Roll out thinly, prick with a fork, and cut into rounds or fingers. Place the cakes on a greased paper and bake in a steady oven for about 15 minutes or until of a golden brown colour. Cool on a wire sieve.


XXThere are families in Croatia who have been making Licitarska Scra for generations and to look at these highly decorated cookies, one can see why it would take generations to perfect them. The cookies themselves are of simple make-up, for it is the colorful icing which really brings these cookies to life. Horses, guitars, horseshoes and most importantly, hearts make up majority of the designs. Covered in bright red glaze, the cookies are then decorated with piped icing and even tiny mirrors and pictures. In present day Croatia, most of the cookies are cut with metal cookie cutters, but traditionally the lictar dough was formed in wooden molds. If you travel to Zagreb, Croatia, ask around and someone may be able to direct you to one of the families (most live in small towns outside Zagreb) who still make these beautiful cookies. The following recipe is from the book, Licitarska umijeca (Gingerbread skills), Ethnographic Museum, Zagreb, 2000.
Licitarska Scra

For the dough:

5 C. sugar

6 C. water

1 1/3 C. baking soda

10 C. flour

For the Glaze:

scant 4 1/2 C. gelatine

3 C. water

food coloring

For the decoration:

gelatine

sugar syrup

potato flour

food coloring

1) Use the ingredients to make the dough. Leave it for one hour and then re-knead it and roll it out on the table with a rolling pin. Shape licitars with licitar moulds and place them in a metal pan previously greased with oil and sprinkled with flour. Place licitars in a preheated oven and bake them for several minutes at 350°F. After baking them, remove the remaining flour and leave them for several days to dry.

2) Place the gelatine into the water, stir and cook on vapour until stiff. Add some food coloring. Carefully dip small licitars into the glaze. Hang them up to dry (at least a day). Place the glaze on larger licitars by using a pastry brush.

3) For the decoration, make a mixture of the above mentioned ingredients and fill a pastry bag with nozzles depending on the decoration you want. Press the bag and make decorations on licitars. When the decoration dries, licitars are ready.

Licitar Heart

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