Stage Plank Cookies


I was thinking of those scalloped edged, gingery store bought cookies of my youth. Some were iced with pink and some with white. I found this recipe and wondered if anyone makes this type of sweet. They originated in New Orleans and were named for the gangplanks to steamboats. They are sometimes called Rock and Roll Cookies.

badge posted by: dachshundlady on January 19, 2013 at 8:34 am in Baking, desserts and sweets
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reply by: 4paws2go on January 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

I've never heard of, or ever seen these!

We weren't allowed, as kids, to eat a LOT of 'store bought/commercial stuff...that's why I've never eaten a Ding-Dong, or a! Mom went to several different bakeries, weekly, so we always had more than enough 'goodies' on hand.

Here's something to compare to...:

Was the icing like a a royal icing???


reply by: dachshundlady on January 19, 2013 at 10:13 am

Yes is was a Royal type icing. The theory is that slave cooks learned to make gingerbread from their European owners (God that sounds horrid) and then put their own personal spin on it using readily available molasses rather than cane syrup or whatever. The cookies became very popular in New Orleans and were sold by street vendors. Later they spread thru the country. As Spock would say "Fascinating".

reply by: 4paws2go on January 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

They sound yummy!

Here's a copied posting, from a 'Chowhound' group, with an older recipe/version.

"There's a recipe for Estomac Mulatre aka Stage Planks or Gingerbread Without Butter or Eggs in the Picayune Creole Cookbook first published in 1901.

1 cup molasses
1 cup sour milk
1 T ground ginger
8 T shortening
3 cups flour
1 t baking soda
The directions briefly: melt the molasses, shortening and ginger together and blend well. When thoroughly melted and warmed, beat for 10 minutes. Dissolve the soda in 1 T boiling water and add to the molasses mix. Then add just enough of the sifted flour to make a stiff batter, beating thoroughly and vigorously. Pour into several greased shallow pans and bake for ten minutes in a quick oven. Whatever that means.
There was no recipe given for an icing or directions for adding one.

When I was a child in New Orleans, stage planks were available in grocery stores as packaged cookies. They were about the size of playing cards and had pink and white icing, assorted in the package. The icing was like a royal icing. I loved those cookies."

Laura *edit*...just saw this, too...:

reply by: 4paws2go on January 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm

All you'd have to do to replicate the round cookies would be to use that recipe, and cut them out with fluted round cutters. Most of the commercial soft 'homestyle' gingerbread and oatmeal cookies use a gelatin, or gelatin/eggwhite frosting, which dries hard, like the royal icing. The one I linked uses egg white, and agar agar.



reply by: dachshundlady on January 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hmmm, looks like I need to test some recipes . . .

reply by: frick on January 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Even though I have had the Picayune Creole Cookbook almost since I was married, I must not have delved too deeply into it since Stage Plank or Estomac Mulatre cookies are new to me. I mostly used it for pralines, gumbo and to find out what a coubiyon was (court bouillon). If it hadn't been for that book, I would never have figured out what a mirliton was or how to stew okra.

So, since I love gingerbread, and have the stomach of a peasant, I guess I'll have to try them. Wish I had a guess as to what size pan to use. Since I have never had these cookies, how thick should they be? Will it be something like a non-spicy hermit?

reply by: dachshundlady on January 20, 2013 at 9:44 am

Frick the link in my original post has a picture but I believe they were formed and baked on cookie sheets. I guess I would look at other bar cookie recipes with comparable flour amounts and use that to guess at pan size. Some of the recipes have you back in a pan, cool well and then do cut outs. Seems wasteful. But if your baker was a slave I guess you wouldn't worry about waste as the slaves could eat the scraps.

reply by: dachshundlady on January 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

I made the Stage Planks or Mule Bellies as some are called. Love them. Not too sweet so don't feel sick after eating several for breakfast! They were hard to work with as dough is wet so I chilled it. Still, hard to cut into rectangles with knife. Next time I will add more flour and brown sugar and play with the spices a bit. I added some black pepper which is good.
Frick, do let me know when you try your recipe. I can see why some recipes have you just spread the dough in a pan and then cut afterward. If I do tha, I will just cut into bars and not into shapes which leave too many scraps.

reply by: 4paws2go on January 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

This was the one from Epicurious??? Sounds good, especially with the black pepper! What is the texture like? More cakey? Like a soft gingerbread? Or more chewy and denser?



reply by: dachshundlady on January 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Yes, the Epicurious recipe. The texture is soft and cakey. I may refrigerate overnight next time and roll out in confectionery sugar instead of flour. They're not too sweet so could stand the confectioners.

reply by: PaddyL on January 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

It looks and sounds like a recipe from an Australian cookbook, and they always seem to ice their cookies and buns in pink.

reply by: dachshundlady on January 23, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Yes. Here in the states they were either pink or white. The texture is hard to describe. Cakey and both soft and firm.

reply by: 4paws2go on January 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Those sound really good, DL...will have to try them over the weekend.

I think chilling the dough overnight would help, with the stickiness issue, too. Have you got a bench knife? That's what I would use, to cut them. Heckuva lot easier than using a regular knife. If the dough is still a little on the sticky side, you could lightly oil the knife, cut, and then use the flat blade to transfer the cut pieces.

Thanks for finding, and posting these!

Have you ever had, or heard of 'Bulla''s a Jamaican form of gingerbread, denser than what we normally think of as a gingerbread, the cake type. It is deliciously gingery! I am in ginger heaven, down here! The bulla comes in plain ginger, coconut/ginger, and something else I can't recall!


reply by: frick on January 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Laura, if you ever come across a recipe . . . well, you know we would all love to know how to make Bulla . . . and BTW, I must have forgotten. You are in Jamaica?

reply by: dachshundlady on January 24, 2013 at 8:30 am

Bulla does sound good. I LOVE ginger too. And yes, I have a bench knife, just didn't think to get it out! I looked up Gingies in my old Betty Crocker cookbook and they are quite similar in ingredients to these stage planks. No egg either. But less spicy and I think even the SP could use more spice. Hence the addition of black pepper on my part. Next time I will also add allspice and maybe some crystallized ginger.

reply by: 4paws2go on January 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

Hi,, I'm down near Ft.Lauderdale. There is an extremely large Caribbean community in this area, much more so then when I grew up here. Extremely multi-cultural, and very enjoyable! One of my favorite grocery stores caters to these groups. Their piped in music is reggae! Makes ya want dance, while!

I've got a real good girlfriend, who is Jamaican, so I'll ask her to review some Bulla recipes, before I post any. I tried a version of Spice Bun, which is sort of a traditional Easter cake/bread, a few months back, that one of her family members had brought, from Jamaica, and it was waaaay better, than the 'commercial' version, the pre-packaged stuff, on the grocery shelves.

They don't use white refined sugar, in anything, only the demarara, or raw sugar, so everything has a nicer, sort of deeper flavor to it, than if made with white refined sugar.
The Bulla is almost like a cross between a sort of dense bread, and cake, in texture. Kind of hard to describe, but so good!

This store has the entire Caribbean covered, and even has African ingredients, also Indian.

My one-stop shop!


reply by: frick on January 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm

4paws, how very cool. Reggae in the stores sounds right up my alley. Something spicy from the oven will be on today's agenda. I agree with dlady. Maybe it's my age and diminishing taste buds but many recipes today seem a little wimpy on the spices. Black pepper is gaining a larger foothold in my kitchen. Two things I miss, though I could make them given the energy, are black pepper pasta and panforte, which I meant to make Christmas. Why is it that some of these things just sound right only at a certain time of the year? Why not now?

As for Stage Planks, or some version thereof, maybe their time has come.

reply by: dachshundlady on January 24, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I meant to add that the gingies are a drop cookie. Hence no problem with overly wet dough.

reply by: frick on January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I see the epicurious recipe says to add up to 1/2 cup flour so the dough is stiff enough to roll out. Did you add the extra flour?

Since they aren't very sweet, maybe that's why they were iced?

I mistakenly bought too much turbinado sugar. Maybe I'll press some into the surface. Do you consider this like the baked and sliced (not dropped) hermits, except for the addition of nuts and fruit/raisins? Well, I looked and all my hermits recipes have a egg. Still, I wonder if the texture is somewhat like hermits?

reply by: dachshundlady on January 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I added the extra half cup flour plus a lot to roll out. Not the texture of Hermits. These are soft but dense. And they have kept well in my glass cookie jar. We only have a couple left so I may make another batch tomorrow!

reply by: dachshundlady on January 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

Made another batch of dough and let set overnight. Rolled out in confect sugar this morning. Much better that way!
Does anyone know how baking soda still works the next day when it's already been activated by the molasses and buttermilk?? Does the fridge retard its action? There's no baking powder in this recipe

reply by: dachshundlady on January 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Much better rolled out this time in confectionery sugar. They are homely buy homey!