In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, soda, salt and all the spices.
In a medium saucepan heat the molasses just to the boiling point but do not boil. This doesn’t take very long so watch it.
Stir in the shortening until perfectly smooth. Cool slightly.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand mixer to beat in the sugar mixture. Add a bit of the flour, stirring to combine. As soon as it starts to hold together in a sticky dough, scoop it out onto the well-floured counter. Your bench flour in this step is part of the 4 cups total flour.
Knead in the flour with your hands until the dough holds together. I used about 3 ½ cups of flour. The dough will become very stiff and that is what you want!
Roll into a ball and refrigerate until firm. I refrigerated it overnight.
When you are ready to roll (ha! Sorry.), preheat oven to 375° and line several baking sheets with parchment.
Cut off a portion of the dough and roll paper-thin on a well floured surface. Cut into 2 inch circles, I used the fluted cutter because that is how the cookies looked at Wake. A small offset spatula works well for lifting the delicate circles from the counter. Brush off any excess flour and place on lines baking sheet. They don’t spread at all, so I baked mine less than ½ inch apart.
Bake 4 minutes; rotate tray; bake 2 more; cool on baking sheet; stack and repeat.
I only baked one sheet at a time because my oven sucks and there is no such thing as a top third and a bottom third. Divide and conquer at your own risk.
They bake and cool so fast that it really doesn’t slow you down.
Recipe from The American Heritage Cookbook, 1964 edition These cookies are vegan! Tell all your friends!The dough will keep for weeks, so you can roll as much or as little as you would like at a time.
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