Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gingerbread Surprise

Everyone loved this c. 1930 gingerbread -- everyone except Jennie, the granddaughter of Mrs. W. L. Honsinger, the recipe's author. Jennie, my personal trainer (I swapped therapy for weight lifting two years ago, best decision ever), recently shared with me a charming book containing the handwritten recipes of her grandmother, a native of rural Vermont. Its pages are filled with old-fashioned treats like icebox cookies and rhubarb wine.

Jennie is a fantastic cook and loves to eat (though you wouldn't know it by looking at her), so I was surprised by her reaction to the gingerbread. She did concede that it had a nice aftertaste.

My other tasters -- the staff at Henry Street Settlement -- devoured the gingerbread in a matter of minutes, while asking, "What's the surprise?" The answer: There is none! (My friend Jay, however, said he was surprised that the piece I brought him was so small.)

This is an unusual gingerbread, dark and moist (dare I say toothsome?). It contains no sweetener other than molasses and is very easy to make.

I neglected to photograph the baking process; it's so simple to put together, requiring but two bowls. When the batter is mixed, pour it into a prepared pan.

Bake until done, and the edges come away from the pan slightly.  The center will sink a bit.

Let it cool a while, then turn out of the pan.  And have a taste, as I did. (Purely for quality control purposes, I assure you.)

Cut it into squares. A serrated knife is best for this task.

All that remained of the baking.

Here's a slice without confectioner's sugar.

Inside the book. I'll be making a few more recipes from this enchanting collection!

The handwritten recipe is below. And my easy-to-follow directions are below that.

Gingerbread Surprise

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease and flour an 8 x 8 inch square pan

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
1 egg well beaten
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup melted butter or shortening

In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
Place molasses in a large bowl.
Add the boiling water.
Mix and add the well beaten egg and the dry ingredients.
Mix well.
(Add raisins or nuts if desired.)
Add the butter or shortening and blend well.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (I confess that I didn't time this.)
Cool for about 10 minutes and turn out onto a rack.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired.


  1. What kind of molasses did you use? I have yet to understand the different varieties of molasses...

  2. For this gingerbread, I used organic unsulphered molasses from Whole Foods because that's what I had in the pantry. I normally use Grandma's Molasses, original (not robust) unsulphered molasses. Don't think it makes too much difference, it's just a matter of how strong you want the final product. Thanks for writing, Katherine.