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Hermits have a lot in common with good King Arthur Flour. They evolved in New England, they've been a classic for many years and they have great keeping qualities. Back in the day of the clipper ship, tins of long-keeping hermits accompanied many a sailor as he set out for the Orient or other exotic parts of the world.
In comparing old and new variations of hermit recipes, there are very few differences, so as a recipe, it appears to have worn well. Hermits themselves also improve with age, so make enough to weather and warm your winter.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar, white or brown (or a combination)
1 teaspoon salt
2 fresh eggs, well beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup dark, unsulphured molasses
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dried fruit such as raisins, currants or chopped apricots, which you've plumped in a cup of tea or water
1/2 cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds or whatever you like that's crunchy and good for you (optional)
Preheat your oven according to the way you plan to shape the hermits: 375°F for cookies or 350°F for bars or squares.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the salt, eggs, buttermilk and molasses.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Stir in the fruit and nuts. Blend the dry ingredients into the wet.
For Hermit Cookies: Drop the dough by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. This will make about 6 dozen.
For Hermit Bars or Squares: Spread the dough in a large (13 x 18-inch) greased baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is firm. Cut while still warm.