The only place where the Editor has found this recipe, and concept, is in Helen Edden’s County Recipes of Old England, first published (with beautiful illustrations) in 1929. It reminds us at bfia of a light, bright shortbread (why doesn’t anyone market ginger shortbread commercially?). This is a fabulous cake. The original recipe does not offer any guidance about the shape of this bread: It is not baked in a pan. We have treated it, shape-wise, like soda bread. A countertop KitchenAid mixer made this a breeze; otherwise it is a slog.
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 cups flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 4 Tablespoons ground ginger(!)
- 2 egg whites
- butter for greasing
Preheat the oven to 350°
- Cream the butter and sugar, then beat the egg yolks into the mixture.
- Spoon together the flour, baking powder and ginger.
- Slowly sift the flour through a strainer into the creamed mixture.
- Once the creamed mixture is uniform, whip the egg whites until foamy and then stir them gently into the dough.
- Gently shape the dough into a ball with your hands, place it on a greased sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, and gently flatten it a little with the palm of your hand. Cut a cross in the top.
- Bake until a toothpick emerges not quite clean from the center, usually about 45 minutes.
- Serve hot, or cool on a rack.
- The mystery about this gingerbread is only its rarity. We like dark, sticky, rummy gingerbread, but this is utterly different and wonderful too.
- Good with strong, bitter ale. Also good with Westerhall rum, a white rum actually worth drinking. Chill the rum, add a grind of pepper, let the shards settle, and sip it with your white gingerbread. At the late and lamented Star Top in Chicago the owners would sit with you and share a peppered cold Westerhall on the house. Envoi.
- Do not let the gingerbread brown. Reduce the heat to 325° if it threatens to do so.
- The recipe works for a smaller audience when cut in half. You may want to reduce the cooking time.
- Resist the temptation to let this bread bake too long; it will continue to firm after you remove it from the oven, and gooey gingerbread is nice.
- A slug of rum does not hurt at step 4.