08 March 2010

Family recipe Monday: gingerbread

Baking gingerbread is a good way to make a house feel like home. Baking anything is a good way to perfume a house, but gingerbread in particular has that dark, spicy aroma that warms everyone. It's too good to save just for the holidays. If the weather is still cool enough that baking seems like a good idea, it's a perfect time for gingerbread.

Here are a couple of recipes for cake-style gingerbread from the family recipe files. I'm not sure that my recent ancestors recognized any brand of molasses other than Brer Rabbit as being legal. My mother typed this up when she was a teenager, as she did most of the typed recipe cards we have scanned.


½ cup sugar
3 T butter
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ cup Brer Rabbit molasses
1 ½ cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp [baking] soda

Cream together butter and sugar. Add beaten egg, then alternate the dry ingredients (which have been sifted together) and the mixture of milk and molasses. Pour into a buttered shallow pan. Bake in a moderate oven, 350* F, 30 to 45 minutes.
 --Vada Brooks Johnson, Shirley Johnson Shelton

This one adds nutmeg to the spice mix, substitutes Crisco for butter, uses buttermilk rather than sweet milk, and omits the salt. It is also wonderful. 

Gingerbread II

½ cup Crisco
½ cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup sorghum [molasses]
½ cup B. milk [buttermilk]
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ to 2 cups flour
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Cream together Crisco and sugar. Add egg and beat. Follow the directions as in the recipe above.
--Vada Brooks Johnson
The scratch pad stationery is from my grandmother's niece, whose husband worked in the moving industry. My grandmother's sister Gladys and her husband were part of the Okie/Arkie migration to Southern California in the Depression, and they and their family never came east again except to visit. By my calculations, that means that this line of the family migrated from the East Coast (Maryland) to the West Coast in 5 generations, at a time when traveling and relocating were major and irreversible decisions. Having a mover in the family was not a bad idea.

Apparently, this soft cake version of gingerbread, using molasses, is a variation on a much older European theme. A thinner batter, and you have the makings for some terrific pancakes.

Happy Monday

1 comment:

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

mmmmmmmmmm awesome! Thanks for sharing! :)