web analytics
New England Recipes Masthead I New Egnland Recipes Masthead II


Gingerbread was a favorite dessert of our ancestors here in New England as well as many other places. Most early cookbooks had a dozen gingerbread recipes all slightly different. Today Gingerbread is synonymous with Gingerbread Houses and Gingerbread Men. Gingerbread can be either cake or cookie. The difference between the two: cake is made up of one part butter / sugars, and one part flour with extra moisture in the form of boiling water. The cookie is made up of one part butter / sugars, and two parts flour. The sugars are made up of brown sugar and molasses, usually half and half. The spice ginger is prominent in all recipes but is often accompanied by other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

Gingerbread cake is a delightful dessert served warm, topped with whipped cream. Gingerbread men (cookie) are fun treats to make with children at Christmas time. They can be as simple or fancy as you like. A few raisins create a face and buttons. For a fancy figure, decorate with ornamental frosting.

Gingerbread houses are made out of cake spread thin and baked on a rimmed cookie sheet or cookie dough baked a long time to harden. Check out the Joy of Cooking for an edible cake gingerbread house.

Gingerbread Men

Adapted from a recipe found in Out of Vermont Kitchens, published by St. Paul’s Cathedral in Burlington, VT, 9th edition, 1971. This recipe uses more molasses than brown sugar and has less fat than ordinary recipes. The cookie is firm but soft. Instructions were added as none came with the recipe.

cup butter, softened
cup molasses
cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

Sift together:
3 cups white flour
teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix dry ingredients into moist ingredients, start mixing with a spoon as mixture becomes too stiff to mix, use hands to finish mixing. Form dough into a ball and cover tightly, chill one hour. This makes it easier to work with however dough can be rolled out immediately.

Roll out a full inch thick and cut out, use:
1) Cookie cutter gingerbread man
2) Make your own pattern(s) from a piece of stiff cardboard, boys with long straight legs and
girls with a skirt and shorter legs, place pattern on dough and use a knife to cut an outline of the figure
3) Use raisins for eyes, nose, & buttons. Use dried cranberries for mouth.

Bake: 350 degrees
             9 minutes or longer depending upon size


Santa’s Cookie

Santa's Cookie & Mouse (c) 2009

When all was quiet in the house
     Out came the mouse

To his little nose
     sweet smells of gingerbread rose

Up to the chair
     Up to the table

There laid a cookie
     for Santa to find

A nibble or two
    he would not mind

Poem & Photograph (c) 2009. Mary E. Gage. All Rights Reserved.