A few years ago I happened upon a cache of old family recipes at my mother’s house. There were recipes that went back generations. They were the kind of things I should have known and remembered but sadly, somehow most of these had fallen by the wayside by the time I came along in the 50s and 60s. Of course I was a kid most of that time too — so I may have turned up my nose at some of the dishes. By the early 70s I was out on my own but by then I think convenience foods had replaced most of the old standards.
As I examined them I knew these recipes fit right in with my philosophy of cookbook collecting, old and authentic. They ran the gamut of family members on my mother’s side, most of whom were gone long before I came along. Some even had designations like “ten cents worth of onions” … just marvelous. As I read, I could only imagine what aromas must have filled the house back in the 20s and 30s and 40s in their house.
One recipe was for gingerbread. “Oh, that’s Aunt Dot’s Gingerbread recipe,” my mom had said. In my day, Aunt Dot was more famous for her fudge because she’d whip up a batch of fudge for most big occasions and that batch did not last long. She never used a candy thermometer either … she just had a feel for the right consistency as she stirred the pot. She tried to show me one time … but suggested I use a thermometer, at least initially, to make sure I got it to the soft ball stage. There isn’t anything special about that recipe, it is pretty much a buck basic fudge, but what was remarkable was her ability to do it by touch. I’m pretty much a slave to the waffle light so I always use a thermometer.
Anyway, I was intrigued by the gingerbread. My mom assured me that long before she settled on fudge, Aunt Dot was the queen of gingerbread. I have to admit, this is an awesome recipe. When I bake a batch of this, like I did last night, I know it is not only beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, it is beginning to taste a lot like Christmas as well. I’m getting another piece right now!
Aunt Dot’s Gingerbread
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup melted shortening
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup boiling water
Add beaten eggs to sugar, molasses and melted shortening
Add dry ingredients which have been sifted and well mixed and stir until moistened.
Add boiling water and mix well.
Bake in moderate oven 30-40 minutes. Toothpick must come out clean and test it in several spots as well.
Size? probably 11×9 pan. You don’t want it too thick but not too thin either.
You can ice it if you want, but I usually just eat it.