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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

BOOK/A TABLE - Gingerbread

From plate.

The one scene I actually remember from reading The Little House on the Prairie books occurs I think in the first of the series, Little House in the Big Woods: Laura was sitting in front of a super hot potbelly stove—transfixed by the fiery coals glowing so brilliantly, irresistibly orange that she just had to stick her hand in and grab one. Of course, the girl nearly reduced herself to cinders and reeled back in terrific pain. 

But lesson learned. To this day, I still think about her moment of impetuousness before handling hot pans or oven racks in my own kitchen!

I was reminded of it again when my friend mentioned the gingerbread he’d found in The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker. This particular recipe was inspired by a competition at the Redwood County Fair where Laura and Harriett Oleson vied for Best Gingerbread, with the pastor of Walnut Grove residing as judge.

Don’t look for spoilers here: you’ll have to read Wilder’s books for yourself to discover how the actual contest went. However, the authentic recipe for her scrumptious gingerbread is right at hand below, but please heed the lesson from our precocious pioneer and work gingerly.


Adapted from The Little House Cookbook


1 cup packed brown sugar cup

One half-cup shortening

1 cup molasses

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup boiling water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves

One half-teaspoon salt

4-quart bowl; 2-quart bowl; 9 by 9-inch baking pan


Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease the baking pan. Blend the sugar and the shortening in the 1-quart bowl and mix in the molasses. Add the baking soda to the boiling water and mix well. Combine the flour and the spices and sift into the 2-quart bowl. Combine the sugar-molasses mixture with the flour mixture and the baking soda-water liquid. Mix the ingredients well and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the gingerbread comes out clean.


Thanks Andrew Rozycki for the photo!