Cast Iron

Gingerbread for Emily

November  8, 2010
Author Notes

Recently I came across Emily Dickinson's gingerbread recipe with notes about all the food gifts that she made to friends. As a resident of Amherst I would have loved to have made her gingerbread. Adapting her recipe, I would give her this version. —Sagegreen

  • Serves 6
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup or half a gill of butter
  • 1/4 cup or half a gill of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup or half a gill of molasses
  • 1.5 ounces honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • butter for pan
  • 1 pared pear, sliced
  • handful of toasted pecans dipped in molasses with a few drops of maple syrup
  • handful of sugared fresh cranberries or dried
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • sprinkle of sugar, demerara suggested
  • whipped cream or ginger ice cream for garnish
  • fresh herbal sprig, mint or lavender
In This Recipe
  1. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  2. Cream the butter. Lightly whip the cream. Combine these two. Fold in the molasses, honey and syrup. Add the ginger. Mix in with the dry ingredients to form a dough.
  3. Butter a baking dish, preferably oval, preferably cast iron. Press the dough into a dish (about 12 inches long or so) between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. You can also use cast iron muffin pans for somewhat cookie-like results (cooking time may be shorter this way).
  4. Slice the pared pear into thin lengths. Press into the top of the dough. Arrange the toasted pecans and cranberries in the center.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Then remove quickly to paint a light glaze of egg white evenly on top. Sprinkle with sugar. Return to bake for 5-10 more minutes until golden brown and cooked through inside (use the toothpick test).
  6. Cool, then plate. Add whipped, or ice cream, and an herbal garnish, savoring over a cup of tea as you read Emily's "Final Harvest."

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