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Gingerbread Cakes

Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home

A good recipe that is a cross between a ginger snap and a soft cookie. The amount of spice gives them a good bite. Try them with ice cream for a special treat.

18th Century

Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, one large nutmeg grated, then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread stiff; roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a teacup, or small glass; or roll them out like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a slack oven.

— Glasse, Hannah, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple,” 1796.

21st Century


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. all purpose unbleached flour
  • ½ lb. sugar
  • ½ lb. butter softened to room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ¼ cup cream

Note: This recipe can be halved to make it workable in most kitchens.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, sugar and spices thoroughly with your hands.
  3. Warm the molasses and cream together in a small saucepan, stirring to blend. This is not to be hot but warm so that they blend together, not cook.
  4. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until it has a sort of grated bread look.
  5. Add the molasses and cream mixture and work it up into a stiff dough with your hands. If it seems dry, add a little more cream to it. The dough should be stiff but not dry.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface about ¼ inch thick and cut cookies into whatever shapes please you. If you wish to form them into nut shapes as the recipe states they will look sort of button shaped when they bake.
  7. Bake these in a 375° oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. They should still be soft to the touch before they come from the oven, not hard.

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