While researching on what to make in the kitchen today – I came across a delightful (and easy!) recipe for Gingerbread that was used during the Civil War era. If they could, families of the Union soldiers would often send small care packages of gingerbread, socks, soaps and other food items from home. Since Gingerbread required molasses, it was a popular staple to make being that molasses was much cheaper to purchase than sugar in the Civil War era. This is why Molasses Cookies were also a popular item back in this era.
1 tablespoon of butter (used for greasing the pan)
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/4 cups of molasses*
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1 cup of very hot water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan with the butter (1 tablespoon). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, soda and spices, and cut in softened butter to the four mixture with a fork. Combine molasses, egg and water in a small mixing bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well. Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 9 servings. (Source: http://www.totalgettysburg.com)
*It seemed as if everyone in town was making something with molasses this weekend and after going to 3 stores…I relented and looked online for a molasses replacement (who knew that molasses was so popular in my small town??!!) Here is what I used as a replacement for molasses in this recipe:
1 1/4 cup dark corn syrup (you can also use honey or maple syrup)
We wanted to do something special tonight in the kitchen to honor and remember the wedding anniversary of Abraham and Mary Lincoln who were unitedin marriage on November 4, 1842.
I have read ALOT of books about the lives of both Abraham and Mary Lincoln and what has always seem to peak my interest about these two is how they both came from such diverse backgrounds – she grew up with servants and living in a beautiful home in Lexington, Kentucky while he was born in a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky. Somehow they simply found one another and with the trials and tribulations of courtship (their previous engagement was broken off and her family was not thrilled about her marrying someone “beneath” her) they decided that in the end, they simply wanted to be together.
Mary Lincoln made a white cake for Abraham Lincoln while they were courting and it was one of his favorites after they were married. So, with yesterday being their wedding anniversary, I felt it was very fitting to make something that was dear to both of their hearts (and their taste buds!)
The recipe that I used was from the book, Lincoln’s Table, by Donna D. McCreary and was adapted by Janice Cooke Newman.
Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake
1 Cup blanched almonds, chopped in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour
1 Cup butter
2 Cups sugar
3 Cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 Cup milk
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder 3 times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in almonds and beat well.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Stir in vanilla extract.
Pour into prepared pan and and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. When cool, sift confectionary sugar over top.
A basic white frosting sprinkled with almonds was also popular.