Mary Ball Washington’s Gingerbread

IMG_0349As my family will attest, I went a little crazy with gingerbread this fall, all in the name of finding the best-tasting, most authentically “colonial” recipe. But really, I just wanted to eat lots of gingerbread. Not the cookie variety so much but soft, cake-like gingerbread — with piles of whipped cream.

Gingerbread actually dates back to medieval times, although it was made quite differently then, with bread crumbs and honey. See theoldfoodie.com for gingerbread recipes from many different centuries. My favorite one there — which I did not attempt — is the shockingly laborious 19th-century “Gingerbread for Voyages or Travelling,” which is baked, grated, kneaded, rebaked, dipped in spirits, washed with isinglass [fish bladder gelatin], wrapped in writing paper, and packed in a box so that “it will keep years.” Continue reading

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