Friday, December 23, 2011

World Enough and Time--for Gingerbread

by Sheila Connolly

Had I but world enough and time...

That's seventeenth-century poet Andrew Marvell's opening line for "To a Coy Mistress."  He was writing about what he would like to be doing with a lady love.  Me, I'm thinking about food.

We bloggers here have just spent two weeks wallowing in cookies (and I've got a few dozen left—did I mention I love cookies?), and I thought all that sweet holiday stuff was behind me, until I opened the Boston Globe magazine section and found an entire article devoted to gingerbread recipes. 

Not one, not two, but six different recipes, and they all sound good!  There's even a gluten-free one, and another one includes coffee. I had to laugh when a number of the submitters said that they'd found their recipe in unlikely places, like blowing around a parking lot in the 1970s. I want to try them all, but when do I find the time?

I already told you about my quest to recreate the spicy ginger cookie from my childhood (and that recipe from last week is definitely a contender).  But I also remember my mother making gingerbread—I think, I hope, from scratch—topped with lots of whipped cream.  I've long since settled on a staple recipe from the classic cookbook, The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Becker (I have the 1975 edition). For me it's definitely a comfort food, a warm and hearty winter dessert.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Batter in the saucepan
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp each cinnamon and ginger
½ tsp salt
½ cup light molasses
½ cup honey
1 cup hot water

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and let cool.  Add the sugar and egg and beat well.

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Combine the molasses, honey and hot water.

Add the sifted and liquid ingredients alternately to the butter mixture and mix until blended.

Batter in the pan
Pour into a greased 9" pan and bake for about an hour. (Even in a 9" pan, the cake is nice and thick, with a dark glossy finish and a wonderful aroma … mmm, I'm making myself hungry.)

There's another line later in Marvell's poem that sums it up nicely:

Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball…

May your holidays be merry, and filled with good things to eat!


  1. I made gingerbread once and it failed miserably.

    This recipe looks so much better. I am adding it to my cookbook. Thank you so much :)

  2. Great recipe, Sheila! You're right--it really is a comfort food that's perfect for winter. And I love the way it makes the house smell while it's baking!

  3. Sheila, I love this recipe. I'm going to tweak to make GF. But what fun to hear stories about finding recipes flying across parking lots! I mean, really? LOL Now, I would grab a $20 flying across the parking lot. Heck, even a $1. :) But a recipe?

  4. And I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy gingerbread. - Willy Shakespeare

    Great post, Sheila,
    may your holidays be bright!

    ~ Cleo

  5. Sheila, now I'll have to look up a gingerbread recipe from my 1972 edition of Joy. Love the smell of it permeating the kitchen!

    I'm really curious about the "flying across the parking lot" recipe, lol. I've found money and many strange things in parking lots, but never a recipe!

    Okay, have to admit I looked up the Andrew Marvell poem, which I'd forgotten. But I can only guess at what he means by his "vegetable love" growing, yikes and lol.

    Thanks for all the great entertainment you've provided us with your books and blogs. Happiest of Gingerbready Holidays to you and yours!

  6. I love to put a layer of applesauce in the pan before adding the gingerbread mixture. Warm gingerbread with warm applesauce=yummy!