Brown Bag Designs & Shortbread
Crafted in Virginia by Brown Bag Designs, with designer Lucy as the heart and soul of the company, this design idea began in 1982 when Lucy was celebrating the Chinese New Year in Boston. She noticed an old technique in many of the Chinatown shop windows of large, intricately detailed cookies. Lucy later realized that carved cookie molds, such as the ones she saw used, were a part of much of European and Australian history too; probably being brought to America in the late 18th century.
During most of the 20th century, the craftsmanship of hand carved molds was lost. Lucy was now committed to bringing the age old tradition back to life. In 1983, the first cookie molds, cookie stamps and shortbread molds were created by hand in the small New England town of Hill, New Hampshire.
The name "Brown Bag" is derived from the idea that great things can come from the simplest things in every day life, like a brown bag lunch. Lucy's vision is to have cookie making be about having fun and sharing time with friends and family. At Sturbridge, we have shortbread pans from Brown Bag Designs that are featured below. We'll also take a brief look at the history of this versatile dessert.
The Way The Cookie Crumbles
Shortbread is traditionally a Scottish dessert, but has taken a few different forms throughout history. During Medieval times, shortbread was simple dried bread that had sugar added when hardened. It became widely popular among individuals who could afford luxury and Mary, Queen of Scots, saw to it that she made her mark on the recipe too. What was later named "petticoat tails" was her idea of cutting the shortbread into wedges and flavoring them with caraway seeds. For many centuries it was a dessert only reserved for special occasions and the wealthy.
Fun Fact! In Shetland, an island of Scotland, they break shortbread over the heads of newlyweds as they enter their new home. Our Flowers & Berries Shortbread pan, pictured above left, is perfect to use any time of year. Lily of the valley, tulips and cherries are among the nine designs on the ceramic pan.
What Is Shortbread?
Some call it a biscuit, some call it a cake, but most refer to it as a type of cookie. Actually, the modern recipe hasn't veered too far from its original form. The basic ingredients are 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part sugar.
You can bake them individually; the idea being to have them be level and even to ensure they are cooked perfectly. Shortbread pans from Brown Bag Designs offer this sort of result.
Quality Craftmanship For Every Season
At Brown Bag Designs all cookie molds and pans start with a hand drawing that is then molded into clay. Next, they are made into plaster molds to check for accuracy.
A fourth step involves yet another casting mold where they go into what is called a "ram press" to press their molds. Or, the designs are hand cast with hot liquid oured into each mold one at a time, followed by baking time in a kiln.
Adapting to the Needs of the Cookies
Over the years, the company has experimented with creating molds by hand or using the press. During the end of the last century, the press was their preferred method.
In 2002, for their cookie molds at least, they went back to creating and pouring the molds by hand. The details in the shortbread pans are done by the press because it allows for accurate and even baking throughout.
Your guests, or recipients of your shortbread cookie platter, will be impressed and delighted at the elaborate details on their cookie. All of these shortbread pans are tough enough to withstand years of use and are non-absorbent; there will not be any oil residue or discoloration. All pans are ceramic, have easy-to-use handles and are proudly made in the USA. To clean, scrub with hot and soapy water or, if you like, they are entirely dishwasher safe. Our shortbread pans from Brown Bag Designs are perfect in your kitchen and will make a thoughtful gift to the baker in your life.