This recipe originated from a handwritten recipe found at an Estate sale so the author is unknown. Research points to this recipe originating from Europe. It was then brought over to the 18th Century United States. Whereas European versions were more cookie-like (think the familiar gingerbread people cookies of Christmas), the U. S. version tends to be sweeter and more cake-like. Hence, the recipe is christened molasses (american) gingerbread.
This recipe was originally baked in the Northeastern portion of the early United States as a curative for an upset stomach. What points to this recipe’s origin is the sweetness, and strong flavors.
In the colonial United States, sugar was expensive so alternative sweeteners had to be used. In colonial America, molasses and honey were inexpensive alternatives to our now relatively cheap white sugar. Processed sugar was normally imported and usually ended up in the homes of the upper classes. Additionally, white sugar, at the time, most likely originated in the Caribbean. White sugar was sometimes avoided due to the slave labor that was used to produce the expensive additive.
Also in the colonial United States, rising agents were often bitter. Due to this , this molasses (american) gingerbread recipe tends to be big on flavor. To mask the bitter aftertaste of the leavening agents, molasses or honey were added in addition to cloves, allspice, cinnamon and, ginger.
Unlike yeast recipes such as this No Knead bread recipe, there is no rest period needed. The rise is accomplished through the baking soda activated through the addition on boiling water.
Molasses (American) Gingerbread, 18th century medicinal treat
This version of an American classic gingerbread cake, began as a digestive aid for an upset stomach.
- 1 Tbsp Butter (Room temperature for prepping the pab)
- 1 Tspn Baking Soda
- 1 Cup Molasses (Unsulphered)
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Butter (Unsalted, at room temperature (1 stick))
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 2 Cups Flour (All-Purpose)
- 1 1/2 Tspn Ginger (Ground)
- 1 Tspn Cinnamon (Ground)
- 1/4 Tspn Allspice (Ground)
- 1/4 Tspn Cloves (Ground)
- 1/4 Tspn Nutmeg (Ground)
Grease either an 8-inch x 8-inch or 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with some softened butter.
Ensure the rack is in the middle position of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place baking soda in a two cup measuring cup and pour a cup of bowling water. Set aside and let baking soda dissolve.
In a large glass bowl, combine the molasses and eggs with a wooden spoon.
Add a quarter cup of butter, sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice to the molasses mixture until batter reaches a smooth consistency.
Add the baking soda and water mixture to the batter. Stirring until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. The gingerbread is done when the bread springs back when lightly touched.
Let the gingerbread rest in the pan for about 20 minutes.
Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, a dusting of powdered sugar, or whipped cream.