Years and years ago back when I was in college, my husband (then boyfriend) took me to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg for a few days one summer. It was hotter than Hades the week we were there. I am talking stifling, sweltering, oppressive heat and humidity. Colonial Williamsburg was particularly torturous as there is very little shade, dust kicking up everywhere, and the smell of hot horse poop everywhere. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more cranky that day. After a few hours I had enough so we decided to grab a snack, take a break, and relax. That is when I discovered not only the best ginger ale I ever tasted but also, “Shrewsbury Cakes”.
Shrewsbury Cakes are really nothing more than sugar cookies but with a slight citrus note to them. They are absolutely delicious and I was in love at first bite. I ended up going back to the “Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop” where we found them and buying a whole bunch more to take home with us. They were THAT good! I also came across a little cookbook as well which contained all kinds of colonial era baking recipes and as luck would have it, the Shrewsbury Cakes were in there. Score!!
The below recipe is taken right from, “Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop” by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The only changes that I made to the recipe was to replace vanilla extract with vanilla paste and I decided to use vanilla sugar instead of plain granulated sugar. Other than that I followed the recipe as written, increasing the baking time by 8 minutes because I made larger sized cookies than what was called for. The recipe listed a yield of 36 cookies, I was able to get 24 cookies using my medium cookie scoop.
The cookies are light, slightly crisp on the edges, and absolute perfection. You will not be disappointed with this recipe. They would be a terrific addition to your Christmas cookie list, just use some red and green colored sugar to roll them in and you will make Santa Claus one happy little elf!
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar)
- 1 1/2 tsp grated orange peel (or 1/2 tsp dried orange peel)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
- 1 large egg
- 3 tbs milk or half and half
- 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar.
Add the orange peel and vanilla extract.
Add the egg and milk.
Combine the sifted flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar then sift together. Slowly incorporate to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined.
Scoop the cookies into 1″ balls and then roll them in sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until very light golden brown. (Remember to increase the baking time for larger sized cookies)
Cool the cookies on the pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy!