Sunday, January 6, 2013
So many vintage recipes for gingerbread are preceded by the word "soft" that it makes me wonder, is there such a thing as "hard" gingerbread? In any case, this version is flavorful, delicious -- and soft.
The recipe is from a composition book, owned by one Ida Mai Van, and filled with notes she took during a 1935 cooking school course. My friend Loretta found this book among some family papers and gave it to me years ago. I made a couple of cakes from it that were so disappointing, I put the book aside. But I recently reopened it and discovered a treasure trove of wonderful recipes and the more I look through it the more I discover. First impressions did not mean much in this case.
Below is the mis en place for soft gingerbread, except there are two sticks of butter, not one. (Maybe that's why it's soft?)
Because this recipe, like so many others from the 1930s (and 1940s and 50s), is merely a list of ingredients (presumably everyone knew the method for cake, gingerbread, cookies and everything else), I've written the instructions at the end of the post.
Cold winter days just call out for warm gingerbread; it's perfect for breakfast, tea or dessert.
Mix the butter and sugar, then add the eggs.
After you add the molasses, the batter may appear curdled. Don't worry about it; it will smooth out as you proceed.
After the dry ingredients are added, the batter is very thick, but once the hot water is mixed in, it will be thin enough to pour into the pan.
This recipe makes a lot of gingerbread, ideal for sharing with coworkers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 12 inch pan.
Have the shortening (I used butter) at room temperature. Mix the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and flour in a small bowl.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Add molasses and mix. Add dry ingredients and combine (but do not overmix). Add hot water and mix. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares. A lemon glaze would be nice, but this gingerbread is delicious sans sauce.