There really are charts of gingerbread recipes. Here are some highlights.
17th century – honey based.
Take a quart of honey clarified, and seethe it till it be brown, and if it be thick put to it a dish of water; then take fine crumbs of white bread grated, and put to it, and stir it well, and when it is almost cold, put to it powder of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and a little liquorice and aniseeds; then knead it, and put it into moulds and print it; some use to put to it also a little pepper, but that is according to taste and pleasure.
Gervase Markham, The English Housewife, Best ed, 1614. p. 120.
18th century molasses based
One table spoon cinnamon, some coriander or allspice, put to four tea spoons pearl ash, dissolved in half pint water, four pound flour, one quart molasses, four ounces butter (if in summer rub in the butter, if in winter warm the butter and molasses and pour to the spiced flour), knead it well ’till stiff’ the more the better, the lighter and whiter it will be; bake brisk fifteen minutes; don’t scorch; before it is put in, wash it with whites and sugar beat together.
-Amelia Simmons. American Cookery. 1796. p. 36.
19th century sugar based
One cup butter, two cups sugar, four cups flour, three-quarters of a teaspoon soda, one tablespoon ginger. Cream butter and sugar very light, add ginger, milk, soda and flour. Turn baking pans upside down and spread the mixture very thin on them. Bake in a moderate oven, Cut into squares while hot.
–The Trip-hammer Cookbook, Kingston Mass., 1894.
NOTE: When I saw the ‘fairy’ in the title (back in the ’80’s) the first thing I thought of were fairy cakes, as in teeny tiny cupcakes. So in my mind, my impression of this recipe was that it was a good plain gingerbread that should be made into to small cupcakes and that spread it thin on the the back of the pan stuff….and it also makes a really good loaf cake, sliced and served with applesauce and or whipped cream or even a pouring custard.And the Cook’s Country did a story….