Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The Portland Hermit is a Food History Mystery. An old cookbook dated 1877 in Portland, Maine has a published recipe for Hermit's. In American Food holidays' November 15 is national spicy hermit cookie day.   They are a New England speciality, bringing us back to grandma days.  They are fragrant, soft, chewy, dark with raisins and spices, and offer a  long shelve life.  The recipe I used was from the Portland Press Harold dated April 17, 2002.  Anthony Mezoian's father was a owner and pastry baker in Portland, Maine.  Mr. Mezoian shares the recipe and makes them for this article.  Mr. Mezoian is also the author or 2 cookbooks. "The Armenian People of Portland, Maine and his newest book at the time of this article is "ABC: Armenian Baking and Cooking." He felt the need to add this to the history because if he didn't do it no one else is going to do it and it's going to be lost," Mezoian says.

The Portland Hermit
Portland Press Harold
April 17, 2002
Anthony Mezoian

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup molasses

The final coat for your hermits
1 egg, 1/8 cup of milk, 1/8 cup of molasses. Mix this in a small bowl. This will be brushed on the dough before you bake them.

In your stand mixer cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and mix. Then by hand add the remaining ingredients. Adding the flour 1 cup at a time. The batter will be thick like cooked oatmeal. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or grease the baking sheets. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using 2 racks in your oven have them at the bottom 1/3 of oven and the top 1/3 of oven. You will rotate the baking sheet during the cooking process. On a pastry board sprinkle the board with some flour, place about 2-3 spoonfuls of batter and gently with your hands roll this into the flour until the dough becomes easy to handle. Don't over do the flour you are just rolling enough to coat the dough. Then carefully pick this dough up and place it on your baking sheet. Continue with more dough and flour and keep adding sections of dough on the baking sheet until the row is full from side to side. Using your hands along both edges you are pressing slightly to combine the sections of dough you added and to make it uniform in shape. Keep about 3 inches between rows of dough. Continue with the dough and flour and do another row. You should get about 3 rows per baking sheet. Keep in mind the dough will spread during baking. Before putting in the oven brush the rows with the final coat. Bake them for about 12 -15 minutes rotating the baking sheets at 6 minutes. Remember the bottom of oven is hotter then the top. You want them to be baked consistent. Watch them and make sure they are done before removing from the oven. They should rise up a bit, spread out on the cookie sheet and feel firm to the touch. Let cool on the baking sheet, then using a spatula carefully lift them to a rack to cool completely. Using a pizza cutter, I cut them in 2 inch bars.


  1. Looks great! I love the combination of spices. Your kitchen must have smelt amazing.

  2. Andi, your hermits look and sound wonderful. I have no idea why you are not receiving the updates. I've checked with 2 other people to see if they are having a problem and the answer is no. They receive email updates everyday. As do I. If you send me your email address I could try to enter it and see if I have better luck. This is a puzzle. Take care. Blessings...Mary