"beat the batter one whole hour..."
I recently ran across this reproduction of a 17th Century recipe for "Prince Bread," which apparently produces a cookie with the texture of angel food cake. The ingredients aren't anything special, but I couldn't get over the mixing time: 45 minutes! In fact, the original instructions say to "beat it all to batter one whole houre: for the more you beat it, the better your bread is."
Seriously! Check it out: http://www.greneboke.com/recipes/princebisket.shtml 
I can't imagine that it would work, but the author seems to have tried it with good results. What's going on here? What advantage could mixing a batter for 45 minutes possibly have over mixing it, say, five or ten minutes?