Baking Lady Locks Cookies
We’ve talked about it before…. the Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table.
As we say around here, “It’s a ‘Burgh Thing.”
And no respectable wedding cookie table would be without Lady Locks.
As much as I love baking cookies, I have never truly mastered the esteemed Lady Lock.
But one of my best buddies has….
She baked them for my first son’s wedding, and she baked them for my second son’s wedding. So when I offered to help bake some cookies for my oldest daughter-in-law’s sister’s upcoming wedding, I asked Tracy if I could pay her to bake some Lady Locks.
“How about I teach you?”
When I told my daughter-in-law we were going to make them this past Sunday, she was so excited. She had been googling the recipe to give them a try, but was a bit hesitant to tackle these, so she wanted to join in the lady lock baking lesson too.
Now my grandma made these every year for Christmas and for special occassions like family weddings. I tried her cryptic recipe a few times years ago, but they never came out quite right. At one point in time I had her special lady lock pins, but somehow they are nowhere to be found. (I likely tossed them out of frustration after trying several times!)
Fortunately, Tracy still has her grandma’s, which were handed down to her mom and then her. I found a local store in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, In the Kitchen, that carries them and sells them online for anyone interested in purchasing (which I did). It’s important you get the correct kind. Expert old-time bakers were able to make these on clothespins (and some people still call them clothespin cookies), but I can’t even imagine!
Baking these are not for the light of heart or spirit. Though they are made from just a few simple ingredients you likely have in your pantry, these tasty little buggers are a bit tedious to make. (Especially when you double the recipe and have a 1-1/2 year-old helping!)
Tracy generously allowed me to share her Mom’s recipe here, which was a COMPLETE success! (Probably because she did most of the hard work….. after all…. my granddaughter did need to take a few breaks to swing and play in the pool and eat lunch and join Pap Pap for a tractor ride during the 5-hour bake-a-thon!). Colleen, her mommy, was a trooper rolling and tapping and filling the whole time – even while 8 3/4 months pregnant (this girl never ceases to amaze me!).
We filled half of our 200 lady locks with pink-tinted vanilla filling and the other half with white almond-flavored filling. They both are melt-in-your-mouth divine.
Here is the recipe. The best ever, full-proof success lady locks recipe. Thanks Tracy!
Lady Locks Cookies
- 3 cups flour
- 1 lb butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups Crisco
- 3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
- 3/4 cup canned Evaporated Milk
- 4 1/2 Tbsp. flour
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix flour and butter with pastry blender like when making pie crust to form crumbly mixture. Stir in water until dough forms. Shape dough into 2 balls, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the Lady Locks Pins by rubbing your hands with Crisco and then rolling the pins in your hands to grease them. (You only have to do this for the first batch – they will be greased enough after that from each subsequent baking.)
Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick on floured surface. Cut dough into 2″ x 1-1/2″ rectangles. Wrap each rectangle of dough around Lady Locks Pin pinching edges well to seal. To do this is a bit tricky. You must pinch the dough together, then roll it in your hands and/or on a lightly flour-dusted counter (or both!) to get them smooth and even. Then take a butter knife and cut through the center of the dough on the pin to create two evenly-sized pieces – pushing them apart about 1/8″. (You will get two cookies from each pin).
Fill a cookie tray or baking stone with dough-wrapped pins about 1/4 inch apart. Bake approximately 10 minutes until just lightly browned.
When they come out of the oven, you can allow them to cool a minute or so, then you need to tap the ends of the pin on the counter to loosen the baked dough and slide off the pin on the narrowest tapered side. (It’s a bit like playing hot potato, but necessary to remove the shells from the pins. Tracy says if you leave them cool too long on the pin, the will likely stick to them and break in the process of removing.)
Once you have baked all of your shells, and they have cooled, prepare the filling.
With an electric mixer, beat the Crisco. Add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and beat again. Add 1/4 cup canned milk, and beat again. Add flour. Beat again. Add salt. Beat again. Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat again. Add 1/2 cup canned milk. Beat again. Add vanilla (or almond extract). Beat again. If you are going to tint your filling, add food color, and beat one final time until incorporated.
Using a pastry tube or decorator with small tip, fill shells with filling.
These cookies freeze well, and actually taste phenomenal straight out of the freezer.
Do you have another favorite Lady Locks recipe? I’d love to hear how you make them.
Cheers & Hugs,