18th Century Coriander Christmas Cookies

Is there such a thing as recipe fatigue? Lately I feel drawn to recipes that are much simpler but usually have a distinctive look and/or ingredient. Like these cookies! They are like little pillows, and are kind of chewy and have such strong coriander flavor, and…that’s it! And that’s enough for me!

Plus, they are great dunking-in-coffee-or-tea cookies! I want to call them Christmas Nuggets or Short & Plains. I can also see them cut into smaller pieces, then strung together like popcorn garland for Christmas trees, but that’s just me. These remind me of cookies I made a little over a year ago, but even simpler!

They are almost like little bread rolls, but leavened with pearl ash! If you don’t like coriander, substitute cardamom. I made a second batch with cardamom, and to me, they taste even more like Christmas, but I really like the coriander, too. But if you don’t like either of those, make them with you favorite spice! And if you don’t have pearl ash, you can probably substitute baking soda, but unfortunately I’m not sure of the amount. I was curious about the pearl ash, so I went ahead and bought me a small bottle, which means I might be making these again, or some other recipe that calls for pearl ash.

This recipe, called “Christmas Cookies”, was taken directly from the popular YouTube Channel “Townsends”, which is focused on early American colonial life in the 18th Century, and has many fine, interesting (to say the least), recipes that you can recreate if you want to get all colonial in your kitchen! As soon as I saw this episode, I knew I would be making these for Christmas time!

18th Century Early American Christmas Cookies (from Townsends YouTube channel, or Savoring the Past website.)


3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cups sugar

3 Tablespoons Coriander seed, ground (I also made a batch with 2 Tablespoons Cardamom, ground)

10 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

pinch of salt

1 and 1/4 cups sour milk (can use 1 Tablespoon added to regular milk)

1/2 teaspoon Pearl Ash (you can buy Pearl Ash HERE)


Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, sugar, and coriander together in a bowl and stir with a whisk.

Add butter to the flour mixture and get all in it with your fingers, smashing and blending the butter into small pieces, until butter are small pea-sized shapes, kind of similar to making pie crust.

Add the pearl ash to the sour milk, stir to dissolve, and add to the flour.

With floured hands, knead dough, adding more  flour as needed (I ended up adding about a 1/2 cup more flour), and continue kneading on floured surface until less sticky, about 5 minutes.

Roll to a thickness or height of about 1/2 and inch, and cut to whatever shape you desire. I followed Jonathan and just cut them into small irregular squares.

Bake at 325 degrees F. for about 25-30 minutes, just until bottoms are slightly browned. Cookies will be somewhat soft when fresh out of the oven, but get somewhat harder after they cool. Store in airtight container.

12 responses to “18th Century Coriander Christmas Cookies”

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