This honey cake recipe is from Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook, American Cookery. It is probably what we would think of as gingerbread today.
- 3 ½ cups Flour
- 1 tbsp. Ginger
- 1 tbsp. Cinnamon
- 3 tbsp. Diced Candied Orange Peel
- 1/3 cup White Sugar
- 1 Egg well beaten
- 2/3 cup Honey
- 1 ¼ cups Sour Milk (If you don’t have sour milk, you can add 1 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to milk)
- ½ tsp. Pearl Ash (or Baking Soda)
Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, diced candied orange peel, and sugar and set aside.
Combine egg with honey. Add pearl ash to the milk and dissolve completely. Mix milk with egg mixture, and then add everything to the dry ingredients.
Knead dough until smooth then roll out to a ½ to ¾ inches. Cut into any shape you like.
Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.
Transcript from Video:
Today we’re making a wonderful honey cake. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century cooking with James Townsend and Son.
This honey cake recipe is from Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook, American Cookery. It is probably what we would think of as gingerbread today. It is sweetened with honey like many of the early gingerbread recipes were, but this one is leavened. It’s leavened with pearl ash, which is not typical of early gingerbread recipes. Because this is leavened I got a nice and fluffy texture, unlike most of those early gingerbreads that were a very hard cake.
Like our last recipe, this one’s very simple. We’re going to start off with 3 ½ cups of flour. To our flour, I’ll add 1 tablespoon of ginger, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of diced candied orange peel. Let’s also add 1/3 of a cup of white sugar.
Now let’s focus on our wet ingredients. I have 1 egg well beaten and to this I’ll add 2/3 of a cup of honey.
I have 1 ¼ cups of milk. Now this works best if you have a sour milk. If you don’t have sour milk, you can add, say, a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to this, and to this milk, I will add a ½ a teaspoon of our pearl ash. It needs to completely dissolve before we add it into our dry ingredients.
Finally, we’ll add our milk and pearl ash mixture to the honey and egg.
After kneading, let’s roll these out to ½ inch or ¾ inch thick.
Again, you can cut these in any shape you like. We’re going to cut them in a simple rectangle.
For baking these, I’m going to use the tin kitchen that’s in our catalog. If you’re going to bake them at home, I would suggest 325 at approximately 25 minutes.
These look great. Let’s see how they taste. So they’re very nice. Have a wonderful spicy sweet flavor with the honey. They’re a little chewy, but light and fluffy. They’re certainly not hard at all. You can see the wonderful crumb on these. They’re nice and light and fluffy. This pearl ash is doing a great job of leavening these. They were probably extremely popular in their day. These are really, really wonderful. These would make a great holiday treat. I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.