Dutch Walnut Cinnamon Squares: Food and Recipes of the 13 Colonies

Dutch Walnut Cinnamon Squares: Food and Recipes of the 13 Colonies

When I came across the book “Food and Recipes of the Thirteen Colonies: Cooking Throughout American History” at a book sale, I was thrilled. (I also bought another recipe book from the Revolutionary War time period, which I’ll share later as well.)

As a homeschooler, I love when I find treasures like these. Since we’ve already been studying the 13 colonies and which states are included, this recipe book was a perfect supplement. Not to mention that earlier this year, the kids went on an awesome homeschooling field trip and got to see first-hand what schools were like in that time period, visiting an old colonial schoolhouse. They learned how to write with quill pens among other things.

With this newfound recipe book, we can experience what colonists actually ate. You certainly don’t have to be a homeschooler to appreciate a book like this, however. If you’re a history buff and enjoy learning new things with the kids on the weekends, or if they are currently learning about the 13 colonies and colonial life in school, this would be a great addition!

I made a special trip to the library before we started looking at the recipes and grabbed “Historic Communities Colonial Life,” written by Bobbie Kalyan. It helped to give the kids a more thorough understanding as to how colonists lived, what they wore, what games they played, and what their homes were like.

Now for the fun part!

The Food

The colonists wanted to eat the same foods they ate in Europe but many of the foods didn’t grow in America. Therefore, they had to cook and eat new foods. Obviously cooking was different back then. They didn’t have stoves, ovens or refrigerators. They cooked over big kettles in an open fire. Sugar costed too much to use every day so they mostly cooked with molasses and maple syrup. They made the maple syrup from sap drained from maple trees.

{Pretty cool thinking about how different things were back then, right? As an adult, I’ve forgotten a lot that I’ve learned in school, so I really love relearning everything, and honestly, at this age it’s much more interesting than when I was a kid.}

The first American cookbook wasn’t published until 1742, in which one of the most popular recipes at the time were flat jacks, similar to pancakes.

There are five recipes included in “Food and Recipes of the Thirteen Colonies,” consisting of foods such as hasty pudding and succotash. So far, we’ve made the Dutch Walnut Cinnamon Squares and they are out-of-this-world amazing! We’ll surely be making them again because everyone raved about them. The growing season in the middle colonies was much better compared to the New England colonies. The Dutch settlers brought their own traditions and food with them which consisted of cookies, cheeses, cakes and pastries. It’s no wonder we made this recipe first! It’s not only delicious, it’s very easy to make. {Note: I made minor adjustments to the recipe instructions to add more specifics.}

If you’re interested in the other four recipes, I definitely suggest checking out the book. We plan on making hasty pudding next and I’ll be sure to post about that one as well. In the meantime, you can enjoy this tasty Dutch middle-colony early-traditional dessert💞

Dutch Walnut Cinnamon Squares

You Will Need:

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg — the egg yolk in one bowl, the egg white in another
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (organic if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts


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