Authentic Hospital Ginger Bread

E_just_E

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In the war Gingerbread was considered a major comfort food and was given to soldiers in the hospitals as a way to better their spirits and there were lots of stories about "Hospital Ginger Bread" when the wounded warriors return to action or back home.

Here is a recipe of 12 year old Josephine Peffer who won a blue ribbon for her gingerbread in the 1860 Wisconsin State Fair:

1 cup molasses
¼ lb. butter, softened
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch square pan and dust it lightly with flour. Beat the ¼ lb. of butter until it is smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the buttermilk and molasses, and blend.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, ginger, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 minutes. Stick a toothpick into the center of the gingerbread. If it comes out clean, the gingerbread is done. Cool in the pan, and then cut into 9-12 pieces.
 
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Legion Para

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A piece of hot gingerbread and a glass of milk would go great this afternoon.

Gingerbread has changed since 1860. This truly is a bread and nothing like the gingerbread you see for sale today (2016).
 
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James B White

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There were both kinds of gingerbread in the 1860s and before, cake-like and cookie-like. Eliza Leslie's common gingerbread was made into shapes: "Put some flour on your paste-board, take out small portions of the dough, and make it with your hand into long rolls. Then curl up the rolls into round cakes, or twist two rolls together, or lay them in straight lengths or sticks side by side, and touching each other... You can, if you choose, cut out the dough with tins, in the shape of hearts, circles, ovals, &c. or you may bake it all in one, and cut it in squares when cold."

Her Lafayette Gingerbread on the following page includes eggs and is made with a batter thin enough to be stirred rather than rolled out, and would be the cake-like kind.

Here's Josephine Peffer's actual recipe. Pretty close to the modernised one, but I see no point in using baking powder in place of saleratus, when baking soda would be a closer match and by 1860 might be the actual ingredient just going under an older name. They also left out the brown sugar and tripled the amount of ginger when modernizing it.

https://books.google.com/books?id=R0w3AQAAIAAJ&pg=PA175

PREMIUM GINGERBREAD—RECIPE.

One cup molasses, one-half cup butter, one-half cup buttermilk, two eggs, one table-spoonful brown sugar, one tea-spoonful ginger, one tea-spoonful saleratus, flour enough to make a stiff batter. Miss Josephine Peffer, (under 12 yrs.)
 

bekosh

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Apr 18, 2014
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WI
With the other Gingerbread posts I thought I would bump this one too.
I made a batch a couple of months ago for a family gathering and it went over quite well.
One note, the OP has a typo, it should be a teaspoon of ground ginger not a tablespoon. Unless you really like ginger alot.:D
 

nitrofd

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Jan 20, 2013
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north central florida
With the other Gingerbread posts I thought I would bump this one too.
I made a batch a couple of months ago for a family gathering and it went over quite well.
One note, the OP has a typo, it should be a teaspoon of ground ginger not a tablespoon. Unless you really like ginger alot.:D
Good bump.
 
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