Lafayette Gingerbread (1827)

Yields 3 loaves. Recipe is from “The American History Cookbook” by Mark H. Zanger. This recipe was probably prompted by Lafayette’s popular tour of the United States in 1824-1825, which also sparked a renewed interest in the American Revolution. A story developed that the French hero had been served gingerbread by George Washington’s mother during a 1784 visit. The recipe is also called “Mary Ball Washington Gingerbread” in some later books.

1/2 lb. fresh butter

The juice and grated peel of 2 lemons

5 medium eggs

1/2 lb. brown sugar

1 pint sugar-house molasses

4 rounded tbls. ginger

1 level tbl. cinnamon

1 1/2 level tbls. allspice

1 level tsp. cloves

11/2 lbs. flour (or about 41/2 cups sifted white flour, 1 cup white whole-wheat flour and 6 tbls. wheat germ)

1. Take butter from the refrigerator about an hour before starting. Zest and juice the lemons.

2. Beat the eggs very well. Stir the butter and sugar to a cream.

3. Pour the molasses, at once, into the butter and sugar. Add the ginger and other spices, and stir all together well.

4. Put in the egg and flour alternately, stirring all the time. Stir the whole very hard, and put in the lemon at the last. When the whole is mixed, stir it until very light.

5. Bake in glass loaf pans on the middle rack of a 350-degree oven; loaves are done when a toothpick or wire cake tester comes out clean.