Dropped Cookies: Buster Browns, Cocoa Drops, and Orange Rock Cakes

These recipes are from Ida Bailey Allen’s Modern Cook Book (or Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus Service) from the early 1920s. Those not familiar with Mrs. Allen, she was to America then what Martha Stewart is to America now. She was the first homemaking giant. She hosted her own radio show, was an editor for Good Housekeeping, had written over a dozen published cookbooks, lectured during WWII, and according to the Antique Trader, she was the first female food host with her show “Mrs. Allen and the Chef”.


The book I have of hers contains 1,000 pages of recipes, tips, and household planning ideas. The last 25 or so pages contains nothing but advertising, but she clerverly stuffs the adverts with recipes, too.

Here are three of my favorite drop cookie recipes from her book.

Buster Browns (1920s Recipe)

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 ounces melted chocolate
  • 1 cup pastry flour, sifted with 1/6 teaspoon salt (recipe calls for this amount)
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, add the sugar. Add in the milk, eggs, melted chocolate, and then the flour. Last add the nuts and vanilla. Drop onto sheet pans and bake in preheated 350 degree oven until lighly browned.

Cocoa Drop Cookies (1920’s Recipe)

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups pastry flour, sifted with 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, add in the sugar, and gradually add in the cocoa. Add in the eggs. Add in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, and lastly add in the vanilla. Drop onto sheet pans and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until done.

Orange Rock Cakes (1920s Recipe)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups pastry flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • Grated rind of two oranges
  • Strained juice from 1 orange

Cream the butter and sugar, and add in the eggs one at a time. Add in the flour, baking powder, salt (which have been sifted together), and then the orange rind and orange juice. If the mix is too stiff, add in a bit of milk or more orange juice, but the mix should be stiff to hold their shape. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until they are very lightly browned.


Photo of Ida Bailey Allen from the book, Modern Cook Book.

“Collecting classic cookbooks: Repasts from the past.” Patricia Edwards. Antique Trader. August 29, 2009. Article retrieved February 28, 2013.

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