‘In the room on the left a long supper table was seen, set forth with great pitchers of new milk, piles of brown and white bread, and perfect stacks of the shiny gingerbread so dear to boyish souls.’ -Little Men (Life at Plumfield With Jo’s Boys)
Old-fashioned gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday comfort foods. There is something so warming and unique about it’s taste, scent, and texture.
My grandmother always made gingerbread during the holidays when I was a child. It’s scent wafting from the kitchen was about the only thing that could bring me back in from the endless outdoor fun of snow fort and snow men building with the neighborhood kids! I still remember holding a warm piece of that delicious gingerbread between my cold little hands. It tasted like heaven! So rich, aromatic, and warming.
We still make gingerbread during the holidays. It’s now a family tradition to serve gingerbread with fresh whipped cream on New Year’s Day and we usually make it several other times throughout the season as well.
Making gingerbread brings back fond memories from my childhood when we serve it every single year! It also recalls one of my favorite childhood reads, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men. I remember reading about Jo having gingerbread waiting for her boys at Plumfield. It left such a cozy image and a warm-hearted feeling in my young imagination. Baking and sharing the gingerbread still makes me feel a connection with Alcott’s story and her beloved characters. We’re eating the same ambrosial treat as Jo’s boys!
Again, this year we made our gingerbread over the holidays. And my boys helped out in the kitchen, as usual. They really are enthusiastic little helpers!
I’ve used the same recipe for years, by Barbara Pugliese over at Fine Cooking, only slightly adapted. It’s the closest I’ve come to the gingerbread of my childhood. It’s perfectly moist and simply delicious!
So if you’re looking for a good old-fashioned gingerbread recipe to warm you up, please give this one a try!
Here’s what you’ll need:
-1 & 3/4 cup flour
-1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 & 1/2 tsp. ground ginger (up to 2 & 1/4 tsp.) -The little ones prefer a bit less ginger but we adults like it stronger.
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. ground cloves
-pinch of salt
-5 tbsp softener butter
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-3/4 cup dark molasses
-3/4 cup water
For the fresh whipped cream (so yummy that my 2 & 1/2 year old requests his own bowl, haha!):
-1 cup heavy cream
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-Preheat the over to 350F and butter an 8×8 inch cake pan.
-Sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into a separate bowl and set aside.
-In your mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Then, add sugar and mix until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined.
-While on lowest speed, slowly pour the molasses into the mixing bowl.
-Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Then, add the remaining dry ingredients.
-Slowly add water and mix until just combined.
-Pour the gingerbread batter into your prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out from the center clean.
-Let cool for an hour and serve topped with whipped cream!
-For the whipped cream: Mix heavy cream in the mixing bowl and beat until thick. Slowly add the maple syrup and beat until soft peaks form. It’s as simple as that!
And most importantly, ENJOY! We sure do!
Please excuse the flour covered clothing! Things got a little messy when we were sifting the flour, lol. And there’s his extra little bowl of whipped cream. He needs a bowl all to himself!
What are your favorite holiday recipes? Do you recall favorite recipes from your childhood? Do you still make them? Do they bring back fond memories for you as well?