One of the best things I bought for myself last year- as an early birthday present no less- was the book American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More The 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes by Anne Byrn. As I mentioned in my introductory post, I love history and I love baking, and this book combines both of those loves into one.
The first recipe in this book is for American Gingerbread; one of two recipes in the book for this type of dessert. The recipe that Anne gives is an adaptation of a few of the recipes of Amelia Simmons, who “wrote the first American cookbooks in 1796…American Cookery contained recipes for simple fare…and desserts such as gingerbread” (American Cake, page 14).
Unlike the last time I made a cake, I had all my ingredients ready (except I didn’t need any baking powder, so please ignore that in the above picture), and so was able to whip this together in less than 20 minutes.
The cake came out smelling wonderfully, and though I let it cool too much before sampling it, that fact did not diminish the flavor of the cake itself. Anne recommends serving warm with a pour of cream, which is what the white liquid on my plate is.
Ingredients: (all ingredients are in US measurements)
-Butter for prepping the pan, at room temperature (I used cooking spray with flour in it, on my Nordic Ware nonstick cooking pan)
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 cup boiling water
-1 cup molasses
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground allspice
-Place rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush an 8″ or 9″ square baking pan with a little soft butter. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the boiling water until the soda is dissolved. Set aside.
-Place the molasses and eggs in a large bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine and break up the egg yolks. Add the butter, sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon and allspice, and stir well until the mixture is smooth, 40 strokes (it took me a little longer than 40 strokes, so I would say whenever it is smooth for you). Stir the baking soda and water mixture into the batter until it is smooth, 1 minute.
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place the pan in the oven. Bake until the gingerbread rises and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 35-40 minutes (because my oven is seemingly broken temperature-wise, I put mine in for 50 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and let the gingerbread rest in the pan for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with a pour of cream.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes