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Moravian baking

I don’t know enough about German cooking or the history of the Moravian Church to accurately trace the pedigree of these thin lemon cookies, though I can provide some hints. But I need to digress for a few paragraphs before I get back to the lemon cookies.

First of all, the Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations, with roots in the 15th Century. In 1753, German-speaking Moravians established a planned — communal, really — community at Bethabara, North Carolina. Their largest community in North Carolina was Salem, established in 1766. In 1913, Salem merged with the town of Winston to become Winston-Salem.

The Moravian levels of education and technology were much higher than that of other settlers in the area. They were well financed and were able to buy prime land for their settlements. Elements of their German culture and traditions persist today in the areas they settled. But at this point, because I don’t know enough to be able to follow the historical thread, I must skip ahead to, say, 1955. I have a clear memory of waiting in the car in front of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts while my father went into the shop to buy a box of doughnuts. This was at the first Krispy Kreme store in North Carolina (1937), on South Main Street in Winston-Salem, in Old Salem. Krispy Kreme has now gone international.

I cannot say to what degree Krispy Kreme might have been influenced by Moravian baking — probably very little, since the recipe for the doughnut dough came from New Orleans, according to Wikipedia. But I do know that the 1937 Krispy Kreme store was only a few doors away from the Moravian Winkler Bakery in Old Salem.

But another bakery got its start in Winston-Salem, in 1930. That’s Dewey’s Bakery. Dewey’s business was largely based on traditional Moravian favorites. Dewey’s certainly has not grown the way Krispy Kreme did, but clearly they’re expanding and shipping their products farther and farther. As far as I can tell, Dewey’s is now shipping nationwide.

Dewey’s makes a wide range of Moravian cookies. There’s a chocolate version of these thin cookies. The most traditional version, though, is a thin ginger cookie. There is a huge demand in this area for Moravian sugar cake and ginger cookies at Christmas.

What I don’t know (though I wish I did) is whether the pedigree of these cookies goes all the way back to the Old World. It’s probably safe to assume that it does. The Moravian homeland, Bohemia and Moravia, is now in the Czech Republic.

Dewey’s products, I’d have to say, don’t necessarily use the best of all possible ingredients. No doubt that’s to keep prices down. I don’t know if it’s still true, but it used to be that they made their Moravian sugar cake in two versions — one with butter and a less expensive version with margarine. The lemon cookies’ list of ingredients include palm oil and “butter flavor.”

I love the concept of small, thin cookies, though. It’s a little easier not to eat too many. Like shortbread, they’re perfect with tea.

A Moravian lovefeast, Bethania, North Carolina. Wikipedia photo by Will and Deni McIntyre.


  1. Jo wrote:

    I cannot remember a Christmas without Moravian ginger cookies. A tube of those goes in my children’s gift boxes and my only brother and sister-in-law in Arizona each receive a tube of these too. I have a recipe for Moravian sugar cake, but just not the same as one purchased at Dewey’s. Warning: The line stretches out the door around Christmas. As you mentioned, these items can be purchased on line.

    Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  2. Chenda wrote:

    When I was a student in London years ago, I lived opposite a 24hr Krispy Kreme out in New Malden. I have fond memories of eating glazed doughnuts in the early hours after a night out in central :))

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Chenda: At Heathrow airport, I bought a doughnut at the Krispy Kreme kiosk and asked the guys working there if they knew that Krispy Kreme originated in the very provincial town of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They replied that somebody tells them that about 10 times a day. I felt very stupid. Small world. 🙂

    Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

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