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Moravian math

December 4, 2008

I should preface this whole experiment by saying I am NOT a mathematician. Not by any stretch of the imagination. For amusement only. Not responsible for math errors. See your doctor before beginning any cookie program.

My mother-in-law mentioned over Thanksgiving that she’d like to go to the candle tea at Old Salem. It’s a really fun Christmas event, and they serve the delicious sweets the Moravians call “lovefeast.” Unfortunately, we have parties both weekends they’re doing it this year. And one of those parties is a cookie party. So of course I got it into my head that I should try making Moravian ginger cookies.

I’m hoping if I do this, it goes better than my attempt to make Moravian sugarcake. The conclusion of that experiment was that you have to actually be Moravian to do it right.

But of course, step 1 is to find a recipe. Lucky for me, that was easier than finding a recipe for the wonderful Moravian coffee. There are gobs of recipes for these cookies. The first I found said it was from a cooking class at Old Salem. Perfect! Yield: 700-800 cookies. Yikes! Next choice: Do the math or find another recipe. I kept looking. Then I decided to compare.

The first recipe here—the one that calls for 16 cups of flour—is that Old Salem version. The rest I found on other sites. One is from Gourmet magazine. Another is from a Catholic publication, which I found amusing. I multiplied and divided to get them all fairly close to 4 cups of flour as a method of comparison. The second line is the Old Salem recipe divided. The last line is the average amount for that ingredient of the recipes that called for it. Two notes:

  • The really special math was comparing packed brown sugar to unpacked, so those comparisons aren’t perfect, although I tried to compensate for that difference using comparison tables I found online.
  • The column “b” is to note whether the recipe called for margarine, butter, or either. I’m a big fan of butter, so I was a little surprised when the Old Salem recipe actually specified that you should use quality margarine.

See the table. (Sorry about the popup. It was a quick way to deal with a wide table.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mickey permalink
    January 16, 2009 1:52 pm

    I am looking for a recipe for Moravian coffee and you mention one in your Moravian cookie piece. Can you send me the coffee recipe? I sure would appreciate it.


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