Tag Archives: gingerbread

A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

It’s a coffee kind of day….

It’s National Coffee Ice Cream Day. Really.

and then there was a coffee making discussion on a Facebook group…which caused me to look up Arbuckle coffee and cowboy coffee before my second cup here….chuck-wagon-coffee

Then I learned that in Quebecois the cardboard sleeve that slips over the paper togo cups of coffee are called

 un manchon.

cafe-manchon-sleeveBut I digress……

When I was little coffee at home was made with a peculator


Oh, that distinctive sound…

Now the ancestral home is perfumed daily with Mr. Coffee

It beeps when it's done brewing and it beeps when it's done heating for the morning. But it makes coffee.

It beeps when it’s done brewing and it beeps when it’s done heating for the morning and all that beeping is a wee bit annoying. But it makes coffee.

I use a French press pot

I use a French press pot. No beeps.No music.

And now I’m at the coffee shop…kiskadee exteriorIt’s also the day, in 1620, that the Pilgrims departed England and eventually ended up here in Plymouth, on the street where I am RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

I’ve also been up to my eyeballs in Pilgrim food info, so my mind hasn’t been on food of this century…..

  • 17th century gingerbread recipes almost all call for bread – in the form of bread crumbs; but several do not call for ginger. Should you add it anyhow? Karen Hess has a theory (why don’t I ALWAYS read her first?)
  • So, so very very often the suggestions to keep meat from spoiling have to do with venison, and not other meats in 17th century sources…hmmmm – venison is different then other meats somehow….like it’s something you would hang on to, and not just gobble up because you were hungry. Perception, perception….
  • Repasts from the Past, where I’ll talk about bread and sops and Indian Pudding, at the Partnership of Historic Bostons on Friday September 18th at First Church Boston has tickets available
  • HardCore Hearth Cooking Workshop is ready to roll on Saturday September 19th at Plimoth Plantation- still time to join in the boiling/frying/roasting/baked goods fun with me
  • And…..it’s just the beginning of the Pilgrim and Thanksgiving food madness season. How did the Pilgrims ever do it without coffee?
Cream, please. No sugar, thank you

Cream, please. No sugar, thank you, I’m sweet enough the way God made me.

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Gingerbread – a few recipes

There really are charts of gingerbread recipes. Here are some highlights.

17th century – honey based.

Coarse gingerbread.

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.

gingerbread mold med Aachen_Printen_1

Molds to print gingerbread in – 17th century

gingerbread Lebkuechner_Landauer

18th century molasses based

Molasses Gingerbread

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.

Molasses gingerbread still popular in the early 20th century

Molasses gingerbread still popular in 1935

19th century sugar based

Fairy Gingerbread

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….

Fairy Gingerbread is the cover story.....that's those graham cracker looking things. Not a loaf after all!

Fairy Gingerbread is the cover story…..that’s those graham cracker looking things. Not a loaf after all! And the bottom of the pan makes sense.

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Twelve Days of Christmas….COOKIES

On the First Day of Christmas Cookies

which isn’t the same as the Twelve Days  of Christmas because now is the time to plan the all important cookie baking, so the cookie days must come before Christmas.

The actual Twelve Days of Christmas are AFTER Christmas ending with Twelfth Night or Epiphany. But you knew that. And I just made up the Christmas Cookie Days. No partridges, no pear trees, not a goose or a hen, French or otherwise, a-swimming or a-laying or a-leaping or a-milking. Just cookies.

Ah…the Cookie Days of Christmas!

After the Pie Ways of the Autumn, it is time to bring in Winter with hot cocoa and cookies. Cookies also travel well, for cookie swaps and impromptu parties and any other sort of gathering.

Cookies are a great little nibbles while watching Christmas Specials on TV – Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer (from 1964)

Nobody likes a skinny Santa - he needs a few more cookies...

Nobody likes a skinny Santa – he needs a few more cookies

or White Christmas


from 1954. Snow, Snow, Snow – and maybe a Snowball cookie or two…

And Santa is coming to town, and it’s only polite to leave a few cookies out for him.milk-cookies-santa-11259883

Cookies aren’t the only baking for Christmas, but at the ancestral home, they were defiantly a constant.

Some, like Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies are easy and not necessarily holiday specific. And have great back-story. More on that after the holidays.

ccc recipe

Here’s the recipe right on the packet – butter makes a crispier cookie, margarine makes a bendier one, and as far as I’m concerned, nuts are optional.

Sugar cookies are also easy and adaptable. Stir N Drop Sugar Cookies are easy and if you use red and green sugars, festive. Or there’s the prepackaged route.

Nothing easier - and you can spend your artistic energies decorating

Nothing easier – and you can spend your artistic energies decorating while you get great cookie baking aroma

Gingerbread has a long history with the holiday, so that will be an upcoming story.

Stuart gingerbread molds - 17th century

Stuart gingerbread molds – 17th century English from the Gingerbread House Project blog

Oh, Joy! Chocolate Coconut Macaroons with Almonds  are a Christmas cookie.

Shortbread will count as a cookie for the holiday, as will brownies.

Then there’s a long list of Italian cookies…..

some of which are known as  ‘Italian Cookies‘……Italian cookieswhich go by various aliases like Charmella or Sharmella or Jemellos’s or Anise Cookies…..or as my Uncle Johnny would sometimes call them – Snowballs. 

 As for other Italian cookies….there are Susemielle (made with honey – that’s the mielle) which are also known as S-Cookies – but so are so many others…..

Susamielli Napolentani - close enough....

Susamielli Napolentani – close enough….

and there are also Wine CookiesBiscott di Vino, which are cookies made with wine, not necessarily cookies to go with wine…..and little chocolate cookies with nuts and raisins inside…

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies….assorted Cornmeal Cookies.…..

The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies are only suggestions. Mere suggestions. No Pressure.

Take a deep breath and ponder – Why isn’t there  a “It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas” song?

Bake on.



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