Eats: Grandma Jean’s Sour Cream Twist Cookies

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Today is all about inherited recipes. When my Grandma Jean passed away, many of her recipes disappeared. The foods that my father and his brothers craved and would miss for years to come were lost in a shuffle of papers and personal items. That is until a few year’s ago when we stumbled across my grandmother’s recipe for Gingerbread and White Sauce. My sister agreed to make it for my father’s birthday and it was an immediate hit. Before the gingerbread even hit the table he had sent a picture to all of his brothers. We’d gotten a bit of grandma back. Now that cake is not only a birthday tradition for my father but a few of his brothers too! 

There was one recipe that my father especially missed. As a child dad used to help his mother roll out the dough for her German Sour Cream Twists. These quirky cookies sat in a glass jar near the door at my grandparents home and I can distinctly remember my father making a bee-line for the cookie jar every time we visited (sometimes before my sister, mother and I had even gotten out of the car).

For the better part of a decade after grandma had passed the sour cream twist cookies were often mentioned at family gatherings. My father would ask if anyone had found the recipe, and the answer was always a no. But this year at Christmas, an aunt of mine mentioned that she’d found a recipe in some papers and that she thought it may be the one we were looking for. My father got the recipe from her and not two days later, we were preparing the cookies with bated breath. Were these the cookies?

I made the recipe with a few bumps and moments of panic along the way. It turns out that grandma was a big fan of minimalist instructions, she knew the recipes so well that she’d skip steps in her written recipe. We all felt a little closer to her that day, but the best part was that just like he did as a kid, my dad rolled out the dough.

I’m happy to say that these are the cookies. I’ve filled in the blanks and I hope you’ll all enjoy them as much as we have!

Grandma Jean’s Sour Cream Twist Cookies

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These flaky and a tiny bit chewy cookies do need to be refrigerated for 2 hours. They are slightly sweet, look beautiful and are delicious with coffee.

What You’ll Need

  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shortening butter flavored (you can find this in the baking aisle)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks – beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup sugar

What To Do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F
  2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt.
  3. Cut in the shortening.  Note: You’ll want whole slivers of shortening in the dough to get a nice flaky cookie. This is pretty sticky work, you may find easier with colder shortening that’s been in the fridge for about ten minutes.
  4. Dissolve the yeast completely in hot-warm water. (No need to add sugar to make the yeast double in size, just let it dissolve.)  This may take a moment or two. Try to resist poking the murky mix with a fork… it sadly does not speed up the process. But it does pass the time!
  5. Stir the yeast into the flour mixture, then stir in the sour cream, the beaten eggs and the vanilla.
  6. Cover the bowl and dough with damp cloth and refrigerate 2 hours.
  7. Cut the dough in half, set half aside.
  8. Roll out the first ½ of the dough on a heavily sugared board or counter top into a rectangle about 8 x 10-inches.  Note: This is about the size of a standard piece of printer paper (A2). Remember to sugar the countertop to about 9 x 11-inches to keep the dough from sticking as you roll it out! 
  9. Fold two ends in to the center of the rectangle (like the top and bottom halves of an envelope).  Sugar the top of the dough and the counter top and roll the dough out again to ¼ inch thickness. Slice 1-inch wide strips into the rolled out dough.
  10. Repeat steps 8-9 with the second half of the dough.
  11. Twist the ends of each slice in opposite directions making the cookie look like a nice spiral. Bend the spirals in the center to make a horseshoe shape and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just slightly golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar while the cookies are still hot and enjoy!
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Mmmmmm Flaky!

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