September 20, 2013

Mrs. Lee's Gingerbread

We took part in a Civil War reenactment recently and I was looking for a cookie recipe that would fit the time period.  This recipe was among seven "receipts" for gingerbread found in a notebook of Mrs. Robert E. Lee's.  The molasses used in Mrs. Lee's era was more likely stronger and more bitter than the gentler flavor of molasses today.  Spicing was usually left up to the cook.  These cookies may seem a bit bland to some - no rich and gooey chocolate here.  Yet I'm always amazed at how children and adults alike seem to love their simple flavor.  My basket was empty by the end of the day! 

6 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. salt
1 c. minus 1 T. lard (shortening)
1 T. butter
1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. dark molasses
5 T. ginger or 4 T. ginger, 2 t. cinnamon, and 1 t. cloves (this is what I did)

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the lard, butter, and brown sugar. Stir in the flour mixture, along with the buttermilk, adding alternately until well combined. Stir in molasses until the dough is the right consistency to be rolled. Roll out on a floured surface until its about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds using a 2 to 2-1/4-inch biscuit cutter. Place on prepared cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen. (These are delicious made into ice cream sandwiches, using vanilla bean ice cream).  

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