American Cake-American Ginger Bread

Gingerbread. Looks like chocolate cake, but it isn't!
Rare is it when I get to explore history, American history, food history, new recipes, new techniques (or very old techniques actually) and get to have a tangible thing in the end. Cake!

I was listening to Stuff you Missed in History Class as I regularly do, when I was in the kitchen this past weekend. I was baking a Decorated Swiss Roll for The Daring Baker's Challenge.  And as boom they had Ms. Anne Byrn on talking about her new book. Her Cake Doctor books, while not my typical way of baking, were inspired. I actually recognized her name!

Oh sweet heaven! She was talking about how America developed and along side it, its cake culture. I could not have geeked out more. American history is the first thing that whet my appetite for history and baking is my way of life. The women host, Holly and Tracy were both surprised that these two things hadn't intertwined before now. Me too!

Anyway, I bought that book and read the first through the first 6 or 7 recipes. I'd been looking for more baking adventures, so in a Julie/Julia kind of moment I've decided to give the entire book a go from start to end.This is more for my edification than for anyone else's. I call no judgement. So I stopped reading deeper into the book. I have to bake then I can read.

Today I made the American Gingerbread. What was new to me and a leap of trust? A full cup of water with baking soda dissolved into it. I've dissolved baking soda into water for raisin oatmeal cookies, but this was massive. Also, not spraying my pan with cooking spray and just going with a butter schmear. I did however use a stand mixer. I mean, this is 2016 after all.

The recipe with minimal instruction is as follows. Please buy her book. American Cake by Anne Byrn.

1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 ounces butter
.5 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1.5 teaspoon ginger
.5 teaspoon cinnamon
.25 teaspoon allspice

375 oven. 8x8 pan. Grease pan with butter.
Add baking soda to water and stir to dissolve, set aside.
Cream molasses, eggs and butter. Add sugar. Cream more. Add flour and spices. When combined add the water/soda mixture. Start the machine slowly or it's going to go everywhere.
Bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven when a tester comes out clean.

This is super delicious. There's a fluffy crumb and the top has just a little sugary crunchy resistance. Clearly it's very molassessy. A total yum. But as an aside, I make a gingerbread trifle and this recipe is not dense enough to work in that.


  1. This sounds like a great idea! Goodness knows you'll not have to eat all this cake yourself! I have been interested in historic recipes too, and have been listening to the James Townsend and Sons YouTube channel, and their recipes from the 18th century.


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