The fall issue of Victorian Homes may have just hit newsstands yesterday, but we’re already busy with our upcoming holiday double-issue. Get ready for a host of swoon-worthy Victorian homes dressed in elaborate Christmas decor and tons of DIY projects you’ll love–including Victorian Christmas cookies. We’re excited to give you a glimpse into the making of what promises to be our best holiday issue yet!
We baked three kinds of Victorian Christmas cookies today: sugar, gingerbread and Lebkuchen, each of which were popular in America during the 19th century.
Even with the fancy marble pin you see above, it took far longer than we anticipated to roll the sugar cookie dough sufficiently thin to make pretty cookies; the first batch was too thick, and the cookies puffed up so much that the animals weren’t recognizable. The poor owls came out quite obese, while what should’ve been a gangly giraffe looked like a turkey foot. The doves, meanwhile, masqueraded as amoeba.
While our baker battled the next batch of Victorian sugar cookies into submission, I peeked around the kitchen. We were baking in a 1950s cottage in Costa Mesa, California, a city known for its post-war cottages and bungalows. And this kitchen didn’t disappoint: a shabby chandelier–a yard-sale find painted white–hung over the dining table; a vintage scale, tea set and other kitchenware smiled down from over-sink shelves; and antique buttons from across the world adorned one of the walls.
Next, we tackled the Victorian gingerbread cookies, which held together far better than the sugar cookie dough. The result: beautifully clean-cut animal-shaped cookies.
Meanwhile, the next sugar cookie batch came out quite well. We were going to cover them with red sugar crystals, but the crystals turned out to be a bit magenta–so we went with good old fashioned cinnamon instead.
Finally, we turned our attention to our last kind of Victorian Christmas cookie: Lebkuchen, also known as “German gingerbread,” which was brought to America by German immigrants in the 1800s.
The thick, dry dough was incredibly crumbly, so she filled a small glass with room-temperature water and pressed the dough flat with wet fingers.
Of course, while our baker fought with the Lebkuchen dough, I tested the crumbles for quality control: delicious. The smattering of orange zest in Lebkuchen gives the bread-like treat a tangy kick.
Once the dough was flat, we threw it straight into the oven. Only minutes later, the dry dough was crispy and ready to be cut into bite-sized pieces.
Then, it was time to brush the sweet lemon glaze over the Lebkuchen bites–which, needless to say, took the cookies to a whole new level of delicious.
Once the glaze was dry, we packed up our Victorian Christmas cookies and I drove them home, where they’re waiting in my fridge for the official photoshoot.
Keen to try our Victorian Christmas cookies for yourself? Pick up a copy of our holiday issue when it hits newsstands on November 5, 2013; inside, you’ll find complete recipes and instructions for each of these cookies.
by Elaine K. Phillips