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Today's Case

Tough Cakes Molasses Cookies

Subject: Tough Cakes
From: Jay
Date: 12/15/2020, 8:26 AM

On 12/14/2020 3:26 PM, Jay wrote:


I'm looking for the recipe that my family used to make when I was a kid. 
We called them Tough Cakes. They were a molasses cookie that was rolled 
out and cut into large circles (4 - 4.5"). Tough was an appropriate 
description because they were. The best comparison I can make is if you 
could take a molasses cookie and turn it into jerky! You had to almost 
tear-off each bite. They were beyond what most cookie recipes call "chewy". 
They weren't crisp. They weren't iced or topped with sugar.

This part may or may not be right - they may have been from my father's 
childhood (born 1914). He grew up in the mountains of Virginia. I know he 
found the recipe we used. I can't remember if he was looking for it because 
of them being from his childhood or if he just ran across it and liked it. 
My best guess is that they were from his childhood.

I haven't found anything on the internet that is similar.

Thanks in advance for any help!


Hello Jay,

 I can find plenty of molasses cookies recipes that are rolled out and cut, but none that say to make a 4 inch to 4 1/2 inch cookie. 3 inches is the biggest size given in all of the very few recipes I saw that mention a finished cookie size at all and that are rolled out and cut rather than formed into balls.  I can't find any recipe called "tough cakes" or "tough cookies".  The recipes I find that have those terms in them are describing "tough" as a flaw caused by over-mixing the dough.

Did you see the actual written or printed recipe that your family used? Did it actually say "4 inch to 4 1/2 inch cookies"?  Did it actually say "tough" or "very chewy" in those words?

Just about any molasses cookie recipe can make "tough" cookies if you over-mix the dough, and, of course you can cut rolled out cookies to any size you want - 2", 3", 4", or whatever. The only way for me to find your recipe from the dozens of molasses cookies recipes on the web is to have some unique ingredient or instruction or wording from the printed recipe that I can use as a search term.

The alternative is for me to post this on my site. Maybe one of my readers will know of a recipe that makes cookies like you describe. I'll let you know if I get any responses.



I understand it is difficult to find without some distinguishing characteristics like 
certain ingredients. My hope is that it was a regional thing that someone may remember.

Here are the details I recall. The recipe was on a handwritten recipe card in my dad's 
handwriting. The name of the cookie at the top of the card was Tough Cakes. I know it 
was something my dad was looking for and found. I don't know where the recipe was copied 
from but I do remember he "found" it somewhere (not in our house or family) I just don't 
know if it was an old cookbook, magazine, or what. I don't recall if the recipe called 
for that size cookie but I do remember my dad trying find something the right size to 
cut them out. He had a very specific size in mind in trying to re-create this thing from 
somewhere in his past.

I appreciate your efforts to help me find it. I know it is probably a long shot without 
something more specific.


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