Why I Love This Recipe
One of the few true family heirloom recipes. You won't find a simpler cookie than this one - Mix ingredients. Cook. Done. There’s no fussing here – they’re meant to be simple, just a lightly sweet, very aromatic break. Good with milk. Great with tea. Outstanding with coffee. You may be tempted to jazz these up with some whole nuts or raisins or chocolate chips or something. Don’t. These are the cookies that you find yourself going back to again and again, once you’ve had your fill of all those gooey, over-the-top desserts.
Ingredients You'll Need
• 2 cups (1 lb) butter, lard, or shortening
• 5 eggs
• 5 ¾ cups (20.1 oz) all-purpose flour
• 1 ¾ cups (11.75 oz) granulated sugar
• 3 tsp baking soda
• 1 cup (8 oz) orange juice
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine fat, eggs, sugar, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Add walnuts at the very end. Cover and refrigerate, at least 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Thoroughly dust a work surface with flour. Divide the dough into four parts. Using flour-coated hands, roll the dough into four equal ropes, about 18” long. Place the ropes onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden and puffy; the cookies will be very aromatic.
3. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool on wire racks. Slice on the bias.
The vanilla doesn’t fight with the orange juice here; instead, it rounds the flavors out. A touch of vanilla can do wonders for lots of recipes. But, if you want a stronger flavor, you can replace the vanilla with a lemon or orange extract. And about the shortening… okay, look, normally I would NEVER cook with shortening. However, this recipe came up through my family, and back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Crisco was King. There’s something to be said for a neutral-tasting fat in this cookie. Since it’s so light, the butter flavor can sometimes cut through the bright orange flavor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you want to keep it pure, I suggest lard. But, if you can’t wrap your head around lard (which I kind of get… but not really, because there’s already eggs in this, and besides – lard is awesome), then by all means use shortening.
If you cannot get all the sheet pans into the oven at once, never fear – just bake them in batches. You don’t need to refrigerate the unbaked dough if you’re planning on cooking them right after the first batch, but keep them away from the heat of the oven. You don’t want the butter to warm up and start to melt before it gets the full blast of the oven. If you do pop them back in the fridge while you’re waiting, you may need to let that second batch cook an extra minute or two.
This recipe makes a lot of dough, and therefore a lot of cookies. Again, it’s one of those situations where you can make the dough ahead of time, and not bake it for a day or so, as long as you keep it tightly wrapped. You can bake one batch in the morning and another at night. But here’s the deal - since the dough “ropes” will puff up, after baking, cooling, and slicing, you’ll find it’s a manageable amount. In fact, you’ll be glad you made as many as you did.