Hypothetically German, not that there’s any evidence of that.
Compare this version from Mary Morton’s syndicated column that appeared in the May 10, 1937 edition of the Stevens Point (Wisconsin) Daily Journal:
I hope you notice the number of sour milk recipes I’m giving you, and keeping them for future reference when that quart of milk or cream goes sour. I have a neighbor who lives alone and bestows sour milk upon me occasionally, to be given back in the form of baked goods. I don’t mean she elects baked goods, but when I make something and use her sour milk, I like to slip her something–a few cookies, some pancake batter, muffins, cake, etc. These twists are dandy.
German Sour Cream Twists–Three and one-half cups flour, one cup lard, one-half pint sour cream, one whole egg and two yolks, one cake loose yeast, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon vanilla, one cup sugar to roll dough out. Mix flour and lard as for pie dough, put in sour cream, eggs and crumble yeast on top of the sour cream and mix in with a knife, put in vanilla and salt. Mix well with hands to a stiff dough and let rise in a cold place or ice box for at least two hours. Sprinkle sugar on board and on top of dough and roll out into a square, folding dough in three, repeating three times, using the cup of sugar in rolling out to keep the dough from sticking. Cut strips one to one and one-half inches wide and about four inches long. Shape into twists. Bake in an ungreased pan at 375 degrees for twenty to twenty-five minutes.
So is it German? Mmm, more like German-inspired. Germans use sweet yeast doughs (hefeteig) quite a bit, although I’m not aware of this specific technique of folding layers of sugar into the dough as being particularly German. At the same time, it’s pretty telling that there’s no name for this cookie in German.
This recipe is from the 21st page of the notebook; here’s the page in full (click to enlarge).Click to expand a longer explanation...
|In the words of the seller:
I acquired this book from the great granddaughter of the woman who wrote this book back in a small Nebraska town in the 30’s. She belonged to that generation of rural housewives who worked tirelessly to make ends meet and “keep body and soul together” for their families working the farms.
[A]fter a conversation I had with a friend’s sister who used to live in North Eastern Colorado, given the type of recipes listed we decided it might be from a small town there, i.e., Sterling or Fort Morgan. Also North Platte or Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Even Cheyenne, Wyoming. If you Google a map of Sterling, Colorado and pull back, you will see all these little towns in that tri-state area.
Sour Cream Twists
Sift together 3-1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt; cut in 1 cup shortening; crumble and cut in 1 cake of yeast. Beat 1 whole egg and add 1 cup sour cream, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Mix all ingredients together, push to bottom of bowl, cover with damp cloth and place in refrigerator for one hour, or overnight if necessary.
Take half of dough, sprinkle board with sugar, roll out dough in oblong, 8 by 16 inches; fold ends to center, overlapping them. Sprinkle with sugar and roll again to same size, repeat a third time, rolling a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut into strips 1/3 inch wide and 4 inches long. Twist ends of each strip in opposite direction, stretch dough a little, place in ungreased baking sheet, pushing down ends. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until browned. Remove from pan at once. The recipe makes about five dozen cookies. (Buttermilk may be used in place of sour cream.)