Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Vanilla Wafers

Posted by bakinghistory on July 6, 2007


These are plain, very thin, crisp and crunchy, and well flavored with pure vanilla. Equally good with tea or a glass of chocolate milk.


From the original recipe by Mrs. B. M. Nichols

In “The Woman Suffrage Cook Book” (edited by Mrs. Hattie A. Burr) c. 1886–USA



1 cup (200 g) sugar

2/3 cup (170 g) butter

4 tbsp (60 ml) milk

1 egg

1 tsp (3 g) cream of tartar

1/2 tsp (2.3 g) baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract (or better, vanilla paste)

5 cups (600 g) flour (or as needed)

The original instructions do not specify the exact amount of flour, they just say to add enough flour to roll the dough very thin. Begin by adding 4 cups (454 g) of flour and then add as much as needed to make a supple dough that is easy to roll. Adding too little flour will make the dough too soft and sticky, adding too much will make it dry and brittle–in both cases it will be very difficult to roll. If you realize you added too much flour, add some more milk (1 tbsp at a time), until the dough is again supple and easy to handle.

Preheat the oven at 350°F (180°C).

Cream the butter, then add the sugar and mix well. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, then add the milk and vanilla and mix well. Sift 4 cups of flour with the salt, the cream of tartar and the baking soda, and add these to the butter mixture. Mix well and then add enough extra flour until the dough holds together and is firm and supple, easy to roll.

On a very lightly floured surface roll the dough very thin (1/8 inch–3 mm), and cut with a cookie cutter. Using a thin metal spatula transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer the cookies on a rack to cool–they will be soft just out of the oven but will become crisp as they cool. Keep in an airtight container.



2 Responses to “Vanilla Wafers”

  1. Abby said

    They are so pretty – I’m tagging this recipe! Everybody loves sugar cookies, right? I love the theme of your blog. Thanks for your hard work!

  2. bakinghistory said

    Thanks Abby! 🙂

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