I thought I had the best gingerbread recipe, but today I made James Beard's gingerbread from Beard on Bread and it may be better. I'd have to try the two cakes together to really tell. My other gingerbread is is spiced. Jim's calls for a lot of molasses and ginger, so you can really taste those flavors.Jump to Recipe
Sweetness and Texture
In the intro he says that gingerbread wasn't always considered a cake but rather a bread to be served with sweet butter as part of a meal. Well, this recipe is definitely sweet enough to be dessert. And you could certainly serve it with butter, but it's plenty moist. Or it should be if you don't add too much flour. It is good as it is, but some whipped cream on top doesn't hurt!
Gingerbread Recipe Pan Size
“The sizes of the bread pans given with the recipes are recommendations and not to be followed slavishly.” -- James Beard from Beard on Bread (Book)
Thanks for mentioning this, Mr. Beard. The recipe in the card is the full recipe. For my personal batch, I halved it and used a little casserole dish with a surface area close to half a 9-inch square pan. So if you don’t have the 9-inch pan or want to make half of the recipe, you can. The baking time range is 25 to 35 minutes, and it will be easy to tell when it's done. In my casserole dish, the half batch gingerbread pulled away from the side and sprang back when poked after 25 minutes.
Beard on Bread Gingerbread Ingredient Notes
There aren't a lot of ingredients in this dessert. For the butter, I used unsalted but salted would have been just fine. I used mild molasses (which is what Mr. Beard calls for), and unbleached all-purpose flour. I think Beard used Ceresota, which is a lot like King Arthur. And finally, I have had a box of crystallized ginger in the pantry just waiting for this moment, so I did put it on top as suggested. Ginger superfans will appreciate that, but if you leave it out the bread will still be very good.
Beard on Bread Gingerbread
- 1 tablespoon softened butter for pan (14 grams)
- 1 cup light or dark molasses (365 grams_
- ½ cup boiling water (114 grams)
- 5 tablespoons butter cut into chunks and softened (70 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (260 grams)
- Optional: Candied Crystalized Ginger chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square pan.
- Put the mixing bowl on a scale and add 365 grams of molasses (1 cup).
- Pour ½ cup boiling water over the molasses, then add softened butter. Stir until melted.
- Add salt, ginger and baking soda. Stir lightly with a wooden spoon or silicone scraper.
- Add ½ cup of the flour and stir until blended, then continue adding remaining flour. Beard says to add just until moistened and mixed, but he also says 2 cups. You'll need 2 cups or 260 grams.
- If you happen to have some, sprinkle chopped candied ginger over the top.
- Bake at 375 for 25 to 35 minutes or until the top springs back. Serve warm.