Historic Williamsburg publishes a recipe book I highly recommend: Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop. That book has a recipe for “Shrewsbury Cakes” from 1760, and printed opposite is the recipe for “Sugar Cookies” like the ones they sell in the little bakery in back of the Raleigh Tavern. This recipe (the one the heroine uses) is based on the Sugar Cookie recipe.

4.5 minute “How to Bake Her Shrewsbury Cakes” Video

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp dried grated orange peel
1 ½ tsp dried grated lemon peel
2 TBs water
1 tsp almond extract
1 large egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsps cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together ½ cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter and 1 cup white sugar.

In a small bowl, mix 1 ½ tsp dried grated orange peel, 1 ½ tsp dried grated lemon peel, and 2 tablespoons water until reconstituted. Add that, 1 tsp almond extract, and 1 large egg to the creamed mixture. Beat until smooth.

Add 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, and 2 tsps cream of tartar. Beat until a stiff dough forms.

Roll into 24 balls: 12 on each ungreased cookie sheet. Slightly flatten each ball with a cup dipped in white sugar. Bake for 13 minutes or until light golden brown.