Today’s bread comes to us from the inimitable M. F. K. Fisher, out of her book How To Cook A Wolf, published in 1942. Mrs. Fisher herself states it is the grandest gingerbread recipe she has ever seen. Mrs. Fisher, suggests that it be served with ”unsalted butter, preferably pressed into little pats.
Adapted from How To Cook A Wolf, by M. F. K. Fisher
Makes one 8 x 4 inch loaf
5 1/2 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup sugar
6 ounces (1/2 cup) molasses
3/4 teaspoon baking soda, divided
3/4 cup boiling water
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped finely
1. Preheat the oven to 325º F. Butter an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan, and
sprinkle with a spoonful of flour, knocking the pan to remove any
excess. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger,
cloves, and salt.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the shortening and
the sugar with the paddle attachment, until thoroughly mixed. In a
separate bowl, beat the molasses and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with a
nonstick spatula until light-colored and fluffy. Add the molasses to
the shortening mixture, and beat until combined, scraping the bowl down
3. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the boiling water,
and stir to dissolve. Alternate adding the water and the dry
ingredients to the molasses mixture, in about three installments,
scraping the bowl after each addition. When thoroughly mixed, fold in
the beaten egg and the candied ginger.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 325º F for
about 35 minutes, or until fully baked and the center of the loaf feels
firm when pressed gently on top. Begin checking the bread for doneness
after 20 minutes in the oven, so as to not burn. Let cool briefly in
the pan before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
1. Gingerbread will keep at room temperature, wrapped tightly, for up to a week. Frozen, it will keep for a month or so.