Old-Fashioned Apple Cookie Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 6, 1913: I made some cookies this morning—and fortunately we all have pretty good teeth.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm—I wonder what kind of cookies Grandma made, and what went wrong.

Maybe Grandma made Apple Cookies. They’re wonderfully moist—and a little chewy (but I don’t think that they’d require good teeth to eat.)  :)

Old-fashioned Apple Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup milk

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup unpared apples, chopped

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream sugar and butter, then add egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and fruit. Add walnuts, apples, and raisins. Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: approximately 48 cookies

55 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t dare bake those, I’d polish them off all by myself. I especially love Hermits and these seem similar.

  2. I remember making jam in a school cookery class. Now everyone’s jam looked brilliant newly spooned into the jars. But spooning it out again proved a problem for some, especially those whose jam had set rock hard! Rock cakes also proved their name. Wishing you a nice day!

  3. Woohoo, I’m going to test these out this weekend.

  4. Maybe Helen made rock cakes ;o)

  5. Goodness what did Helena bake that was so hard?

    • Maybe she over-cooked them. I think that it was really tricky to successfully make cookies in an old-fashioned wood or coal stove.

      • Yes, I think it would have been tricky. Those old stoves were incredible but my grandmother produced the most amazing meals in hers. Not cookies, that I remember, but meals and baked puddings.

  6. I love your Grandma’s dry humor….!

  7. Grandma must have had the same luck I’ve had at times with cookies. :)

  8. That was a funny diary entry– She has a good sense of humor and can laugh at herself — that’s something we all need in life! :)

  9. Living in the country, in a house without A/C, and heated by a wood stove (in which we can cook in during winter), we have learned that atmospheric conditions, such as temperature and humidity can change a recipe. One day those cookies might be crunchy and another soft. Of course, a hundred years ago, folks would have cooked with what they had, not what grociery stores consider uniform for selling. Milk and eggs, even the grind of flour, could alter a recipe, depending on the cycle of the cow or goat, or whether the eggs came from chickens or ducks. Keeps life interesting, as you cannot count on the same dish every time you cook it.

    • Thanks for the information. There sure were a lot of different variables that could affect how cookies turned out. I had never really thought about how the grind of flour and where a cow/goat is at in her lactation cycle could affect the results. In spite of the challenges of cooking when everything isn’t standardized, in general I want to think that food quality was better back then. :)

  10. What a cute entry–so subtle and wry! Your recipe looks worth trying!

  11. Those sound like the chocolate chip cookies I made recently – not the rock hard part, the ingredients! I think next time I’ll use apple chunks instead of the chips. I can imagine that makes them more healthy, even though with that cup and a half of sugar that’s a stretch.

  12. I think the cookies were fine, your Grandma is showing her sense of humor, I like the cookie recipe and will probably try it soon :)

  13. unpared apples? Appeals to my impatience! Maybe Helena said good teeth, not because they were hard, but super sweet!

  14. Those do sound good, hubby loves soft cookies. My mom used to make one similar with fruit cocktail. Hopefully Helena’s cookies softened a bit after baking.

  15. This entry made me laugh. Your Grandmother had a way of using few words but really putting a lot into what she said. I can just picture the results!! But actually some cookies are tricky to bake.

    • It’s so easy to not to get them out of the oven at the right time, and to then end up with burned cookies. I’ve the years I’ve determined that I’m not very good at multi-taskiing when baking cookies.

  16. :) Grandma evidently had a great sense of humor! The teeth comment left me giggling. Great recipe too.

  17. Mmmm, sounds good. Maybe that’s what I can do with the apples I picked today instead of making applesauce.

  18. maybe she overbaked them? or maybe she found the cookies too sweet and that indulgence required good teeth too, lol…

  19. The self-deprecating humor reminds me of my dad. So cute.

  20. sounds good – I may have to try these.

  21. I just found your blog through pinterest (looking for crabapple recipes). I love it! This post really made me laugh. What a great idea! You do a great job of adding to your grandmother’s quick entries.

    • Thanks for taking a moment to write the kind note. I have a lot of fun researching and writing this blog, and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone enjoys it.

  22. Hi. Nice recipe for fall with all those warm spices! Jane

  23. Hahaha, I love how she worded that.

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