|photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|
I made the dough for some gingersnaps, and made 2 batches of gingerbread cake; one divided between small pans, to give as belated Christmas gifts to my family (when I see them), and the other in a loaf pan, for my housemates and I to eat at home. *I also have a plan to make some gluten-free cookies for my cousin and aunt when they come to visit, as well as a Twelfth Night or New Year's Cake, but more on that later*
Rather than making the tried-and-true recipe from Betty Crocker (which I often use), or the Fluffy Gingerbread recipe from my grandma's WW2-era cookbook (which I also often use, but I'm still "tweaking" to improve the flavor), I decided to go with a recipe from a fun little cookbook that I bought a few years ago. It was published in San Francisco, CA around 1915 (the title page is gone, but there are some ads inside that make reference to various years up to 1915), as a freebie to give away to newly-married women! It's full of all kinds of ads for businesses that no longer exist, and a few that still do, and features several brand-name products in the ingredient listings for various recipes.
I have several of those company cookbooks and pamphlets, and while I am annoyed by the 21st century ones that I see, and don't really collect or even read them, I love the vintage and antique ones. They are often properly bound like "real" cookbooks, and I even have one that was published by a stove manufacturing company! That one is really fun because it includes instructions for using all the company's stoves and ranges, and they made electric, gas, and coal-heated models. Useful for understanding how coal-fired ranges work, and how to use them ...
Anyway, I was using the (modern) gas oven in the kitchen, for the first time (I just moved into the house this fall), and dealing with a historic recipe that didn't contain any mixing instructions, or a baking time or temperature. *And* I was going to bake the same recipe in three different sizes of pans! What can I say, I'm a food history nerd, and this doesn't deter me!
|from _The Bride's Cook Book_, 1915.|
Photo; Elizabeth Urbach.
The first batch I baked in 7 small pans (6 were round and about 5 inches in diameter, and the other one was rectangular, and about 6 inches by 3 inches), only filling them halfway full. I interpreted a "moderate oven" to be 350, so I preheated the oven, and put the little pans on the same flat cookie sheet and slid them into the oven. I checked them after 20 minutes; the round cakes were done, but the slightly larger rectangular one was still a bit liquid, so I gave that one another 10 minutes by itself.
|Soft Gingerbread from 1915. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|
My impression: the texture is nice and soft, but it's not as rich and flavorful as I'd like it to be. I think there isn't enough molasses in it, and there are definitely not enough spices. The tablespoon of ginger is nice -- you definitely feel the ginger heat -- but the allspice and cinnamon are almost undetectable. I also think that a pinch of salt will help, as will some applesauce, the next time I make this. Otherwise, it's an easy recipe to mix up and bake, and a good choice for a recipe book intended for new brides -- who might not have much baking experience!