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Thousands of cookbook sales prove quality of contents

This week's recipes include Mennonite Peppernuts, Mennonite Ammonia Kuchen Cookies and Mennonite Honey Fruit Cake.
From the Kitchen by Joyce Walter

One of my many favourite cookbooks is the Canadian Mennonite Cookbook, found on a long ago summer-time visit to Manitoba.

Published in 1965, more than 70,000 copies were initially sold and in 1974 it was in its 18th printing, proving the popularity of the recipes inside.

This week’s recipes come from that cookbook, with some personal tweaking. 

• • •

Mennonite Peppernuts

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups syrup
  • 1/2 lb. butter
  • 1/2 lb. lard
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. mace
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • flour to make smooth dough

In a large pot place the sugar, syrup, butter, lard, cloves, ginger and mace. Heat until everything is dissolved or melted. Stir often. Do not boil. Remove from heat and cool.

Pour cooled mixture into a large bowl. Add the eggs, baking soda, buttermilk and enough flour to make a smooth dough. Cover and let stand eight hours in a warm place.

Cut off small portions of dough and form into fingerlike sticks, rolling with flat part of the hands. Lay sticks in parallel rows and cut across, making pieces the size of small marbles.

Place pieces close together on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees F until they begin to turn a light golden brown. These hard cookies will keep indefinitely. If desired, they may be dusted with cinnamon sugar.

• • •

Mennonite Ammonia Kuchen Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup baking ammonia
  • 30 drops peppermint oil
  • enough flour for soft dough

Cream butter then add sugar and beaten eggs, cream and milk. Add the ammonia which has been dissolved in a little of the milk. Add the peppermint oil and stir.

Add enough flour to make a soft dough. On a floured surface, roll out dough. Cut with round cookie cutter, place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cookies should be light in color. Cool then remove from cookie sheet. If desired, cookies may be iced with a butter icing and sprinkled with coconut.

• • •

Mennonite Honey Fruit Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp. brandy 
  • 1 lb. mixed peel
  • 1/2 lb. each of candied cherries, walnuts, seeded light raisins and dark sultanas

Cream butter thoroughly. Cream in sugar and beat in the honey. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Sift flour and measure 1 1/4 cups then sift again with salt, baking powder and spices. Add to creamed mixture, alternately with pineapple juice and flavouring.

Mix fruits, raisins and nuts together then add 1/2 cup flour and stir until all fruits and raisins are well coated. Add to mixed batter.

Spoon into 2 loaf pans lined with heavy paper that has been well greased.

Bake at 300 degrees F for about 2 1/2-3 hours. Cool in pans then turn out onto a rack and cool completely. Wrap in heavy foil and let set for a week before cutting. Cake may be frozen.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

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