Gingerbread, in search of Mom's recipe with a depth of spice and flavor

Winter makes me hungry for comfort food, does it do that to you too? Everywhere I look there are TV commercials, blog posts, and store displays that showcase holiday foods. The power of suggestion is real, folks.

I tried to be strong but it was a losing battle. Since gingerbread isn't one of hubby's favorites, I would have to eat most of the pan myself. I really don't need all those calories.

After wanting gingerbread for what felt like weeks, I finally gave in. I went hunting for my mother's gingerbread recipe, because the definition of comfort food is the food you remember from your childhood. I thumbed through her cookbooks on my bookshelves, finding one book that had "Gingerbread" circled in the index. I thought that must be The One, but it had sour cream in it and I don't remember that she put sour cream in her gingerbread.

When I exhausted Mom's cookbooks, I looked through my grandma's and my aunt's cookbooks. I had no idea there were so many ways to make gingerbread. Some required two eggs, some just one egg, I even found a recipe that did not use an egg at all. And while they all used 1/2 cup of some kind of shortening (butter, shortening, and even bacon grease), the amounts of water and molasses and flour all varied widely. Some used baking soda and others used baking powder.

I finally settled on a recipe, even though it didn't contain all the spices that I was sure were in Mom's gingerbread. I wanted more depth of flavor than is given by ginger alone. So, as I often do, I sort of combined two recipes into one.

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You'll need the following to make a pan full of gingerbread that will soothe all your comfort-food cravings.

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light or dark molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 9x9x2" baking pan. Beat wet ingredients (molasses, water and shortening) in large mixer bowl on low speed, scraping bowl constantly, 30 seconds.

Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl, then add to the wet ingredients. Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally for about 3 minutes. Pour into pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

My mother always made gingerbread in a loaf pan, like banana bread and pumpkin bread are done, but as soon as I poured this into the loaf pan I knew it was too full, so I used the 9x9x2" pan that all of those recipes recommended.

Gingerbread spices

Flour, sugar, egg

Butter, molasses, boiling water

Gingerbread, holiday comfort food

So, how was it? Very good, but not quite my mother's gingerbread. I'm still on a quest to find a recipe more like Mom's, which might mean I have to make a lot of gingerbread. Maybe I need to try the one with sour cream in it.

Gingerbread, the perfect holiday comfort food

Do you like gingerbread? What is your favorite recipe?

Gingerbread with a deep spice flavor

Related Posts:
My Mother's World-Famous Pumpkin Bread
How to Prepare for Winter Storms

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