I love to experiment with recipes for cakes and cookies from 18th century cookbooks. Sometimes the method of preparation seems a bit odd, like this one for making orsaderolletjes from the Dutch cookbook De Volmaakte Geldersche Keukenmeid, which can be translated as The perfect kitchen maid from Gelderland. Gelderland is a province in The Netherlands, where I live. The first edition of the cookbook dates from 1756. Orsaderolletjes turned out to be almond cookies in the form of rolls (rolletjes in Dutch).
Orsade, orgade, orgeade
Cookbooks from the 18th and 19th century sometimes have recipes with the name orsade or orgade. These names were not only used for sweets but also for drinks. What they have in common is that both contain almonds. Orgeade is still an almond drink nowadays, sometimes with rose water or orange-blossom water, very 18th and 19th century.
The first edition of De Geldersche Keukenmeid is from 1756. It describes how to make the sweet orsaderolletjes. It calls for several ingredients like sweet almonds, sugar and lemons. You grind everything together and heat it up in a big pan while stirring it. We used it as a base for the recipe down below. We know that the rolls stayed in fashion over time because we find a recipe for them in De Volmaakte Geldersche Keukenmeid from 1841. The recipe has almost stayed the exact same. The only real thing that changed is the name: it went from orgade to orsade. Even the shelf life stayed the same. They won’t go bad for a whole year! So the kitchen maid says.
The second recipe from the 19th century still calls for almonds. The biggest difference here is that the former recipe only used sweet almonds, whereas the second one also calls for bitter ones. You still need lots of sugar and some lemon peel. The method of preparation stays the same.
The first step in this recipe is making a kind of marzipan, which you slowly heat up in a pan. Combining the marzipan and the heat creates a binding effect, which turns the end result is a crunchy cookie.
200 grams sweet almonds
6 bitter almonds
200 grams of sugar
Grate the lemon peels. Squeeze half a lemon.
Put the almonds, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor and grind it into fine crumbs. Empty the container into a pan with a thick bottom. Add the lemon juice. Put the pan on medium heat and heat until it’s well heated and the sugar is starting to melt.
Put it on a low heat and stir carefully for approximately 10 minutes. Make sure to keep on stirring slowly so the mixture does not burn.
Get the pan off the heat and put the mixture in a bowl to let it cool a little. When you can touch the mixture without burning your hands, you can start making small rolls. Roll them through some castor sugar and let them cool completely.
The rolls become hard and crunchy very fast. If you put them into an airtight container, they will stay fresh for weeks. We cannot tell you if the rolls really stay fresh for a whole year, because they were all gone before we knew the answer to that question!