FANNY FARMER’S 1896 SOFT MOLASSES GINGERBREAD

In the first edition of Fanny Merritt Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1896) she gives eight different recipes for gingerbread, the first suggesting clarified chicken fat instead of butter, plus several ginger cookies.
Ginger was clearly a favorite! In this close adaptation for a dark, moist, molasses-rich cake, I’ve kept her wording where possible.

Makes 12–16 servings.

1 cup molasses
1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 1/3 tablespoons) + more for pan
1¾ teaspoons soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons dried ground ginger, sifted
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square Pyrex baking pan. (Fanny Farmer calls for “small tin pans” and omits the temperature.)

Put butter and molasses in saucepan and cook until boiling point is reached. Remove from burner, add soda and beat vigorously (it will bubble up). Then add milk, egg and remaining dry ingredients mixed and sifted. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the gingerbread tests done, about 30 minutes. Let it cool somewhat, then cut it into squares to serve, preferably warm.