Hermits

Here’s another interesting cookie with a fascinating history. I had never heard of Hermits before, but Mr. Google tells me there is a long and storied mystery & history behind them. Hermits may have been popularized in the American Colonial period as a bar cake that would last for a long time. They have the sugar and spice of fruit cake, which of course was one of Martha Washington’s famous “great cakes,” and so, the durability to be stored with little negative effects, apparently. The Deseret News once speculated that they are much older, and the name Hermits came from the ancient hermitages (monasteries) and that the ingredients would have been commonly available. They also suggested that the cookies (called tea cakes or just cakes) would have been made last, with whatever was left over after the day’s meals had been prepared. Bon Apetit magazine and many other online sources cite the second half of the 19th century as the time when Hermits became much more popular. Recipes were published in community cookbooks all the way to the famous Fannie Farmer. The treat was popular due to not needing refrigeration and being quite portable. Their popularity waned in the mid 20th century. Perhaps we can fashion a resurgence, friends?

Hermits

2/3 cups butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup seeded raisins

2 1/2 cups flour

1 up nuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp soda

3 tablespoons sour milk

 

 

Additional Links

New England Recipes – a summary of various recipes for Hermits

Cooks Info – Explains differences between versions of Hermits

 

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