Little Prairie Cakes Recipe – Old Fashioned Cookies Made Modern

Praire Cakes Date and Strawberry Filled Country Cookies by BakeThisCakecomLittle Prairie Cakes:

Working with a way-old American recipe, this country cookie dough is wrapped around fresh figgie or strawberry filling for 4-way variation on a very vintage theme. THEN we drizzle on the Sherry Icing.  Holy cow! We’re reconnecting with Vintage Prairie Cakes and it’s all good!  Bring ’em on!

Prairie Cakes fig cookies on baking tray drizzled with Sherry Icing BakeThisCake

Note to self:  I’m thinkin’ that 1859 might have been a good year for Prairie Cakes — uh, ON THE PRAIRIE 150 years ago!  However, after the 10th failed test batch of these little Margaret E Bowes standing Ethel Elizabeth Betty baby Joseph Thomas Bowes holding baby Marie Keeney Goldthorpe seated photo of Margaret May Goldthorpe Odelldarlins’, it has {clearing throat} herewith been determined  that, uh, some of the old recipes must morph into goodness that us modern folk can celebrate — like moving on up from chicken grease to creamery butter — while still holding to the “spirit “of the recipe, of course. 🙂  After so many failed attempts, FINALLY we’ve got some winners!  Whew! But a NEW dilemma unfolds….

Variations on a theme:  Decisions, decisions. Which final Prairie Cake variation is best of the bunch?  And should the little cookies be sliced from their little cake log or prepared individually?  I narrowed it down, with a lot of help from taste-testing friends and family, to 2 fillings and 2 presentations —  so you will see options for each below, starting with the buttery-soft cookie dough that rolls out like a dream with some handy kitchen tools (we used a marble rolling-pin on a giant floured baking sheet). Then we’ve got 2, count ’em, 2 different country fillings — the Bite of Prairie Cookie strawberry filling over baking sheet BakeThisCakeoriginal figgie filling (with a few twists) and a strawberry-date filling that has been whirred with honey, cream cheese and powdered sugar. These little “cakes” (which are really cookies in disguise) are traditionally sliced from a log shape after they’re baked but I conjured up some shape-shifting tricks in one variation to tuck the fruit inside the cookie. The filling stays soft completely wrapped in the dough and the little drizzle of Sherry Icing kicks up the flavor one more homemade country notch.
Prairie Cakes with fig filling in testing stage at Food Bloggers Los Angeles FBLA Holiday Cookie Exchange event BakeThisCakecom

Prairie Cakes with fig filling in testing stage at Food Bloggers Los Angeles FBLA Holiday Cookie Exchange

Prepare ahead: You’ve got a lot to do during the holiday season so you might want to

mixed holiday cookies on a cake platter photo by LifeForcePhotoscom BakeThisCake

Food Bloggers Los Angeles holiday cookie exchange cookies

make the cookie dough ahead of time and store it in little bucket in the “frigerator” for a few days (some folks say up to 10 days).  You can even get the fruit-filled cake logs all prepared, wrapped, chilled and ready to rock.  Then, when the time is right, let the dough warm up on the counter for a bit and slip the fruit-filled logs (or the individual filled cookies) onto your bakeware in a moderate oven for about half an hour  — and you’ll have yourself a very old-fashioned treat on your hands– fresh (and maybe even warm) from the oven. 🙂

I think the wrapped cookie version may be my personal fave, although I have to say, the figgie slices are nice with morning cappuccino and the Wall Street Journal. But my picky-picky teens go for the figgie slices (miracle of all miracles!) with a glass of milk during nighttime homework. So I guess you could say these little gems are teen approved. 🙂

Prairie Cakes cookies with fig filling by BakeThisCakecomGuess Who’s Making a Comeback?  Dates.  (I know, I know. Dates???)  We’re Date Palm at Pershing Square downtown Los Angeles BakeThisCakecomusing special Medjool Dates, the “king of dates”, in the strawberry filling recipe. Why? Because we’re goin’ California prairie with this recipe.  AND these sticky dried dates taste just like caramel, I swear!  Also, this type of date is super huge with an easy to remove pit, plus they are: all natural, light on moisture and high in potassium.  They have: no cholesterol, they’re preservative free AND they have “an inverted sugar content of 70%” (not certain but I think that means they read way-high on the sweetness scale).  Perfect for brightening up the strawberry fruit blend for this country cookie!

Slow Cooking Warning:   No you won’t have to take the covered wagon out to the adobe ovens in the pasture to do your baking.  🙂  But we do need you to plump-up the figgie filling by simmering the dried figs to a caramelized sweetness. And the cookie dough needs some rolling and chilling, so…

Dry Creek through barbed wire fence Photo by Julie Macchiarella

Dry Creek Through Barbed Wire Fence Photo by Julie Macchiarella

Cold weather table setting with pyracantha berries BakeThisCake LifeForcePhotoscomYou’ll need to carve out a little time from your busy schedule for this recipe.  Be sure to ratchet up my “Hey Soul Sister Radio” channel on Pandora while you charge up those decadent aromas in your kitchen.  Though the fig cakes are wonderful hot-from-the-oven, the figgie filling is a tad tricky to keep soft over a number of days so try making them in small quantities or wrap them up tight for storage. The strawberry cake-ies have fresh fruit and cream cheese inside so be sure to refrigerate them to keep them perfectly fresh. Take your time and tinker with the flavors if you like.  Add some orange peel or vanilla.  Put on your grandma’s polka dot apron and take a photo so your friends can see you wearing it. 🙂

Strange spice alert!   Mace.  Mace is weird, right?  Well, kinda.  🙂  It’s actually quite Vintage cheese grater and jar of cooking tools BakeThisCakecommon in many older recipes but it’s not so common nowadays. Mace is actually the covering shell of the nutmeg pod so it has a subtle nutmeggy flavor.  Although we used Ground Mace found at the local market for the cookie dough recipe, here is a photo of Whole Mace from the Carribbean, although I broke up the pods for a different purpose so they don’t look as pretty as they did when they first arrived in the kitchen…Whole Carribean Mace Bake This Cake com

Okay.  Time to haul out your rolling-pin, your food-processor and your bakeware, cause we’re about to bake up a storm…

Close up of holiday cookies on a platter BakeThisCake Photo by LifeForcePhotos

Prairie Cakes Country Cookie Dough

Kitchen Tools Needed for Dough:
Large mixing bowl (for mixing dough)
Small bowl or mug (for mixing 3 eggs)
Medium plate (for chopping cold butter)
Measuring cups and spoons
Baking sheet(s)

Cookie Dough Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (cold)
3 large fresh eggs

Mix all 8 dry ingredients with a whisk…

dry ingredients labeled for Prairie Cakes country cookie dough

Chop into small bits:
3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (cold)

Chopped butter for the Prairie Cakes country cookie dough by Bake This Cake

In a small bowl, beat with a fork until well mixed:
3 large fresh eggs

3 fresh eggs for the Prairie Cakes country cookie dough by BakeThisCakecom

Quickly mix the chopped butter and beaten eggs into the dry ingredients with a fork…

Mixing eggs into dry ingredients for Prairie Cakes country cookie dough by BakeThisCakecom

The dough will begin to come together in large mounds as you quickly mix with the fork.

Continue mixing eggs into batter for Prairie Cakes country cookie dough by BakeThisCakecom

Press together the dough quickly and gently with your fingers.  Your final cookie dough should look like this…

Final cookie dough for Prairie Cakes by BakeThisCakecom

Wrap the dough in wax paper or aluminum foil and refrigerate it for at least an hour (or overnight).
Tip: Leave it out on the counter for about 10 minutes prior to use if refrigerated longer than 3 hours.

Wrapped dough for refrigeration of Prairie Cakes country cookie dough by BakeThisCakecom While the dough is refrigerating, let’s move on to the fruit fillings…

Figgie Filling

Kitchen Tools needed for Figgie Filling:
Heavy pot (for boiling figs)
Wooden spoon
Food processor (for pureed figs; Substitute: hand chopping with a nice, sharp knife)
Measuring cups and spoons

Figgie Filling Ingredients:
9 ounces (about 1-3/4 cups) dried figs (I used California Mission Figs)
1/2 cup medium to dry Sherry (substitute: apple juice)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons of corn syrup

For the figgie cakes, I used dried Mission Figs.  They look so exotic. 🙂

Dried Mission Figs for Prairie Cakes Cookies BakethisCake

In a large pot, boil then simmer on a very low-boil:
9 ounces (about 1-3/4 cups) dried figs
1/2 cup medium to dry Sherry (substitute: apple juice)
2 Tablespoons honey (I used clover but orange honey would be nice)
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Figs into the pot for slow boiling for cookie filling

The slow-simmering figs will suck up the juices and plump in size as they cook…

Plumped cooked mission figs for Prairie Cakes

Simmer-boil (very low boil that is barely bubbling) for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, watching carefully when liquid gets low during the last 10 minutes.
Tip: If every bit of liquid disappears, add a little water or juice to keep a little liquid on the bottom of the pan.

Remove figs from heat, stir to cool to room temperature and throw the figs with their sauce into your trusty food processor (or chop them by hand very finely — which is totally do-able).

Pureed and cooked dried Mission Figs for Prairie Cakes filling

Add to the pureed figs using the “pulse” button until it forms into a ball:
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
Tip: If you’re not using a food processor, just stir in the corn syrup until thoroughly incorporated.

Pureed figs forming ball in food processor

Strawberry Filling:

Kitchen Tools needed for cookie fillings:
Food processor (for chopping fruits; alternate: hand chopping with a very sharp knife, no worries)
Measuring cups and spoons
Teaspoon (for strawberry drop filling)

Strawberry Filling Ingredients:
12 ounces (about 1-3/4 cups) whole fresh dates (I used California Medjool Dates)
1 pound (16 ounces) fresh whole strawberries
8 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese
1 Tablespoon honey
1 cup powdered sugar

Slice in half and remove the pits from:
12 ounces (about 1-3/4 cups) whole fresh dates (California Medjool Dates are best for this recipe)

Puree the dates in the food processor until a ball forms (or chop finely with a sharp knife).

Pureed dates in food processor for Prairie Cakes fillingRemove stems and add to the food processor with the dates:
1 pound (16 ounces) fresh whole strawberries

Fresh strawberries into the mini food processor with leftover pureed figs

Give a few quick “pulses” in the food processor to nicely blend in:
8 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese (cold from the fridge is fine)
1 Tablespoon honey (I used clover)
1 cup powdered sugar

Strawberries powdered sugar and cream cheese for Prairie Cakes filling in blender

Filling the Prairie Cakes with Fruit Filling

Now we’ll fill our crazy-cool Prairie Cakes in a rolled log shape and in individual wrapped cookie shapes.

Let the chilled dough sit on the counter for about 10 minutes if it has been refrigerated for longer than a few hours.

Gently knead the dough for about a minute to be certain it is thorough incorporated.

Cut a  one-half portion of the chilled cookie dough and place it on a floured surface, sprinkling the top of the dough and the rolling-pin with a little flour…
Tip: Because I’m a bakeware hound, I happen to have a super-large baking tray so I used it to roll out the dough for easy clean-up — but any good-sized counter space will do. 🙂

Beginning country cookie dough for Prairie Cookies

Roll the dough out about 1/4″ thick…Rolled out cookie dough for Prairie Cakes cookies

Trim the edges with a knife into a large rectangle shape — maybe 12″ long by 4 inches wide (but you can play with the shapes of your Prairie Cakes and you can easily re-mix un-used dough for the next roll-out)…

Trim edges from cookie dough for Prairie Cakes

Form the sticky filling down the center like a little log…

Forming fruit filling on dough for Prairie Cakes

Make a strawberry log by forming the strawberry-date filling down the center of a prepared cookie dough sheet…

Strawberries and dates filling for Prairie Cakes cookies

Carefully roll the edges of the soft dough over the filling to form a long roll and slice away the extra dough along the long run of dough, leaving the ends long to tuck in later.
Tip: Use a pancake flipper to help flap the dough over the fruit filling if you need to.

Dough rolled over fruit filling for Prairie Cakes

Use a pancake flipper to help you transfer the rolls to an un-greased baking sheet, being sure to place them seam-side down.

Tuck the ends of the rolls by pressing them or pinching them to be sure the filling is completely enclosed (we’ll trim the ends after baking).

Completed Prairie Cakes in slightly different sizes in rolled log shapes…

Completely rolled cookie dough formed over filling for Prairie Cakes

Now we’ll try some individual cookies using the same country cookie dough and the same fig and strawberry fillings.

Use a cookie cutter to cut some shapes in the rolled out dough in order to make individual Prairie Cakes… Dough cut with a cookie cutter for individual Prairie Cakes

Place a level teaspoon of fruit filling onto the center of one half of the cookie cutter shapes. Here’s a photo of strawberry-date filling being placed in the center of each cut-out…

Teaspoons of fruit filling into each cookie cutout for Prairie Cakes

Pinch the edges of the soft cookie dough completely closed to tightly seal the filling…

Pinching dough closed over fruit filling of Prairie Cakes

A small testing tray of individual Prairie Cakes filled with strawberries and dates — all ready to chuck into the oven…

Individual Prairie Cakes  ready to bake

Bake the individual Prairie Cake wrapped cookies at 350 for about 20-25 until lightly golden brown.

Here’s a close-up look at the center of a baked strawberry-filled Prairie Cake (right after I took a little bite out of it).  🙂

Prairie Cake strawberry filling close up in half BakeThisCake

Bake the Prairie Cake rolls on un-greased cookie sheets at 350 for about 30 minutes until lightly golden brown. Slice off the end pieces of each roll to discard (not! 🙂 Just enjoy the end-pieces with your morning coffee).

When the roll has cooled, use a very sharp knife and slice each roll into 1″ slices.

Prairie Cakes fig logs sliced on baking tray BakeThisCake

Sherry Icing

Now we’re going to make a simple icing with a little Sherry thrown in for good measure. You may leave the Sherry out and the sauce will taste just as sumptuous.

Kitchen Tools Needed for Icing:
Electric mixer
Medium mixing bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Funnel (to get the icing into the squirt bottle)
Squirt bottle (for the famous drizzle!, Substitute: teaspoon or little pouring cup)

Sherry Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons medium to dry Sherry (substitute: 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream)
2 Tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream (more cream may be needed to achieve a smooth pour consistency)

In a mixer, blend on low-speed: the powdered sugar, Sherry (or cream substitute) and corn syrup.

With the mixer still on low-speed, slowly add the heavy cream, increasing to medium speed until you achieve silky-smooth icing.
Tip: The icing should pour with the consistency of a thick maple pancake syrup (only white). Sorry, that’s the only analogy I could think of. Ha! 🙂

Pour the prepared icing into a funnel that leads to a squirt bottle. 🙂
Tip: If you don’t have a squirt bottle, pour the icing into a glass measuring cup or other pouring tool, or just fill a spoon with the icing and let the icing drip onto the cookies.

Funnel magic for the sherry icing BakeThisCakecom

After the Prairie Cakes are cooled, use the squeeze bottle filled with Sherry Icing (or substitute tool) and drizzle the icing back and forth across the cookies.

Prairie Cakes with strawberry filling on black plate from side angle BakeThisCake

When the Sherry Icing drizzle is added, well, OH! EM! GEE!!

Prairie Cakes Figgie Cookie slices close up on a baking tray BakeThisCake

Now you’re ready to add an interesting vintage addition to your holiday cookie baking…

Holiday cookies on cake plate by BakeThisCakecom

Christmas Cake coming up next so stay tuned and thank you for all your wonderful words of encouragement. I look forward to hearing from you in our comments section.

Macchiarella Family Photo Collage 2011 holiday Christmas card BakeThisCake

What do you know? Snow in Los Angeles. Ha!

Happy holidays!


Leslie Macchiarella by Christine Murphy

FBLA Food Bloggers of Los Angeles Holiday Cookie Swap with Prairie Cakes top center  by BakeThisCakecom

FBLA Food Bloggers of Los Angeles Holiday Cookie Swap

Savory foods for the FBLA Holiday Cookie Swap

Savory foods for the Food Bloggers Los Angeles Holiday Cookie Swap

Date Palms on Hollywood Boulevard BakeThisCake

Date Palms on Hollywood Boulevard

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7 thoughts on “Little Prairie Cakes Recipe – Old Fashioned Cookies Made Modern

    • Lynne, Thanks so much for stopping by and I’m so glad that your husband liked the Prairie Cakes. That was a fun cookie swap and it was great to talk with you. I look forward to more chats and Merry Christmas to you! 🙂

  1. Those cookies were fabulous at the cookie exchange. My grandmother back on the farm in Iowa used to make a simplified version of these. It brought back good memories for me.

    That was so fascinating about mace. Inquiring minds want to know… what did you do with the broken up mace?

    • Thank you and nice to hear from you, Chef. 🙂 I even gave this recipe another few tweaks after the cookie exchange. Ha! The mace blades were part of a project called How To Grind Whole Mace for Beau Monde Seasoning, starting with a coffee grinder (no), moving to mortar & pestle (sort of), and on to toasting to re-crisp (double no). But I couldn’t bear to toss them out even though I think they’ve lost their punch. 🙂

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