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Christian F. Seabrook’s Snickerdoodles 

“Anne Byrn’s new cookbook, American Cookie, beautifully details the histories of 100 iconic cookies from the United States. If you’ve ever wondered what Girl Scouts sold in their early days, or what Thomas Jefferson liked to bake in his spare time, this is the book for you."

The New York Times bestselling author clearly researched the heck out of her latest work—something that is evident in her thorough explanation of how snickerdoodles came to be.

The cinnamon cookie that we know and love was likely brought to America by Dutch-German immigrants. While they were always popular in Mennonite and Amish baking communities, their popularity skyrocketed in 1891.

According to Byrn, a New York City cooking teacher and newspaper columnist shared her recipe for the cookies in a local newspaper. Cornelia “Nellie” Campbell Bedford’s recipe—sugar cookie dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar--quickly went viral, so to speak.

“Which, at the end of the 19th century, meant the bar cookie was discussed in newspaper columns daily for the next year,” Byrn writes.

Since then, the snickerdoodle has been a staple of American baking.

The standard recipe has seen only minor tweaks over the years. Most notably, its shape shifted from bar to round cookie in the ‘30s.”

From the website:

Exactly how and when Mrs. Christian F. Seabrook started to make the classic snickerdoodle cookie is hard to say. However, we do know she would have had many opportunities to discover it during her travels. She was born in Leeds, England on November 11, 1884 and she became a Registered Nurse. For several years, although she lived in Windsor, Ontario, she worked in Detroit’s Book Tower as a nurse for Metropolitan Life. According to her obituary she was residing in Saginaw with her daughter, Catherine Manning, before she passed away on Thursday, July 16, 1970 at Saginaw General Hospital.

U.S. Customs Card of Christian F. Seabrook

Ready to test Christian F. Seabrook's Recipe?

Here's what you will need:

1 cup shortening

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 2/3 cup flour

2 tsps cream of tarter

1 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°. Cream together shortening and sugar. Mix in eggs. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Combine mixtures. Roll into small balls. In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon and roll the cookie dough balls until completely coated. Place on a ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. 

As always, the Castle Museum of Saginaw thanks our colleagues in the Local History and Genealogy Collection for their assistance.

Deana Coleman, our staff associate, tests out weekly recipes from the cookbook Savoring Saginaw. Vice President/Chief Historian Tom Trombley and Chief Curator Sandy Schwan provided the historical information for this blog.

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