Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home
The word “cookie” is an Americanism derived from the Dutch word meaning small cake. Another term used by the British for a cookie is “cake,” as in Shrewsbury Cakes, or biscuits. Cracknels are a traditional English variation using caraway seeds. Caraways were sometimes candied in a confection called comfits.
Take half a pound of fine flour, half a pound of sugar, two ounces of butter, two eggs, and a few carraway seeds; (you must beat and sift the sugar) then put it to your flour and work it to paste; roll them as thin as you can, and cut them out with queen cake tins, lie them on papers and bake them in a slow oven. They are proper to eat with chocolate.
— Moxon, Elizabeth. “English Housewifery.” pg.114.
- 1 ½ c flour
- 1 c sugar
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
Note: It is important that this dough be worked with your hands. Do not try to mix it with a spoon, mixer or food processor.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
- Combine flour, sugar and caraway seeds in a bowl until well mixed.
- Cut in butter. Beat egg slightly and add to flour, sugar and butter mixture.
- Work the dough with your hands until the mixture holds together. If you find that the heat of your hands is not bringing the mixture together, you can beat one more egg and add a little bit at a time and work until dough holds together. This mixture will be stiff, so it is important not to add any more moisture than necessary.
- Taking a small portion of dough at a time, roll out to 1/8” thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out dough with a 2 ¼ inch biscuit cutter and place on parchment lined cookie sheet ½-1” apart. Dough does not spread during baking.
- Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cookies will be soft to the touch.
- Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely. As the cookies cool they will become hard and crisp.
- Yield: using a 2 ¼” cookie cutter, about 7 dozen cookies.