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Grace’s Old Fashioned Lemon Crackers

Christmas would just not be the same for me with out having these crackers/cookies. They have been a traditional Christmas “cookie” for generations. In fact, I know that they have been made for at least 100 years in my family.

However, it is not so much the actual cracker/cookie that is so precious me as the fact that this was a entire family activity including my father, who did not cook much.

I am very thankful that I am able to pass along the tradition/recipe to my daughter as well.

This is a light, crisp cracker that is slightly sweet.  It has about the same sweetness level of a graham cracker, but it is totally different.

The recipe calls for Baker’s Ammonia. DO NOT use a substitute.

This was my grandmother’s recipe.

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Comments

  1. I think these are very like a cracker/biscuit that was served to us in Germany at a friend’s kaffeetrinken one afternoon! The consistency was a real combination of crisp crunch and a slight cakeiness at the center of the cracker.
    Gundel’s has a sugar glaze that she sprinkled large grain raw sugar over so it would stick to the top of the cracker. She just called them ‘keks’ …

    It’s wonderful of you to share a recipe that is such a family treasure! You are very generous!

    • Susan, you are very kind.

      You very likely correct in these being like something you had in Germany. My family tree is partially rooted in Germany including the side from which this recipe was passed (although they can be traced in America since the early 1700’s).

      I should also say that my grandmother was born in the late 1800’s, thus I know for a fact that the family has made them for more than a hundred years as she was not the first generation. I do assume that she is the one who used shortening instead of lard though:)

      Lemon crackers used to be available at a couple of bakeries near where I lived in Ohio, but one burned down and the other just went out of business. Thus, many people who used to buy lemon crackers now need to make them if they want them. I wanted to share this recipe because I think they are delicious.

  2. Where do you get the bakers amonia? It seems to me that when my mother used to make these when I was a child she would have to go to the pharmacy to get it, could this be correct?

    • Dixie,
      Yes, your mother probably did go to a pharmacy to get the bakers ammonia. It can still occasionally be found at a pharmacy. However, your more likely to find it at a specialty shop, Amazon, or King Aurthur Flour Co. Normally, it is inexpensive, but the added shipping and handling of ordering it adds up. To go to the post I wrote about bakers ammonia, click here.

      Thank you for asking!

  3. Rhena Stanley says:

    Paula, I just searched and found this recipe….the identical one my Grandmother used. My entire family loves these crackers, but no one will bake because of the ammonia! By the way, you can now find the bakers’ ammonia at the craft and cake decorating section at WalMart. Phaarmacies no longer carry this item. I looked all over town for ammonia before a WalMart emlpoyee told me they carried this product!! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Merry Christmas to all!

    Rhena

  4. BETH MURRAY says:

    MY LATE MOTHER-IN-LAW USED TO MAKE THESE COOKIES. I HAD NEVER HEARD OF THESE TILL I MARRIED INTO THE MURRAY FAMILY. SHE PASSED AWAY 5 YEARS AGO AT THE AGE OF 97. MY HUSBAND AND HIS BROTHERS LOVE THESE COOKIES. I TRIED AWHILE BACK TO MAKE THEM AND ON HER RECIPE IT JUST CALLED FOR FLOUR. I DIDN’T KNOW HOW MUCH TO USE, I GUESS AFTER MAKING THEM FOR SEVERAL YEARS SHE KNEW JUST HOW MUCH FLOUR TO USE. I DIDN’T USE QUITE ENOUGH FLOUR. THEY WEREN’T TOO BAD BUT NEXT TIME, I WILL USE THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF FLOUR. THANKS FOR YOUR RECIPE…………

  5. Diane Cooley Lutz says:

    My great grandmother Annie Vetter Polk was second generation American. her Grandfather, Georg Wilheim Vetter was born in Germany and this recipe is identical to her family recipe. It was truly a family tradition at Christmas and she made them at Easter as well. I still use lard as the shortening to keep them authentic. Thank you for sharing

  6. Summer Frost says:

    I got this recipe from a wonderful lady born in WVA near the OH border. She was born in 1898. Her original recipe called for lard, and “5 cents worth ammonium”, to be baked in a “slow oven with hard wood until done”. Bakers’ Ammonia, ammonium carbonate, is also known as “hartshorn salt” in some old recipes. It is easily available from bakery supply shops. Some compounding pharmacies still carry it. I suggest lemon oil (NOT furniture polish!) over lemon extract. Pearl used to make these every Christmas, along with cinnamon candied popcorn, for gifts. Her heritage was not German/Scandinavian, but I imagine some of her neighbors were. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you! I am also from the WV/OH border. My grandmother was born in 1890, so the recipe definitely has ties to the same area and time. I am so glad you clarified the oil v. extract. I changed the recipe to reflect that it is oil. I copied the recipe as my mother had written it and I believe it was just a mistake in her original.

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