Day 118: Gingerbread

Today the wind is gusting and various parts of my neighbours’ houses are banging in the wind. It reminds me of November weather instead of the end of April so I’m going to make Mrs. Richard Jaffray‘s Gingerbread recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

I made a cup of tea and let it cool. I also creamed the 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of white sugar together and then added 1 egg. Once they were well blended I added 1 cup molasses. I mixed in 2 teaspoons of baking soda and then alternated the tea and flour. I ended up using 4 cups of all purpose flour to get a batter that seemed the right texture. I spread the batter in a greased rectangular pan. It baked for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. I was looking forward to sampling this gingerless gingerbread. Did you notice there isn’t any spice in this recipe. I’m not sure if it was deliberately not included or if it was missed. I decided to follow the recipe as written.

Mrs. Richard Jaffray is Mary Havill (or Havel). She was born in 1848 in Galt. Her parents James and Mary Ann were born in England and her father worked as a plasterer. Mary married Richard Jaffray sometime before 1869 when she was about twenty. He’d been born in England like her parents but his occupation is a printer. Eventually he was the mayor of Galt. Mary and Richard had three daughters and in 1891 they were still in their teens or early twenties living at home. The middle girl was teaching and the household included a lodger named Kate Nairn who was 45. They also had two domestic servants Margaret Kerr (47) and Annie Underhill (24). The eldest died in her early thirties of nervous prostration after several years according to the death register. Mary died in 1922.

Although there isn’t any ginger in this gingerbread it still seems like gingerbread. I assume that is due to the molasses. Could the tea have anything to do with it? Why was it included? I have no idea. I was really surprised that I liked this cake. I’d make it again simply for the novelty of a cake containing tea but it is also a very good dessert.

Mrs. Richard Jaffray

One egg, well beaten, one cupful molasses, one cupful sugar, one cupful butter, one cupful cold tea, two even teaspoonfuls soda, flour enough to make the right consistency.


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