Mrs. J. F. Banchor, the woman who contributed her recipe to Home Cookery: Collection of Tried and True Recipes from Many Households (1899), certainly lacked modesty but she didn’t lack baking skills. Selected by “the ladies of the Newton Universalist Church” in Newtonville, Massachusetts, her recipe does deliver the promised soft texture and makes a good treat for children reluctantly moving from popsicle to lunchbox season. It can proudly go back to school, even after more than 100 years. In a nod to modern kitchens, I added the pan size and baking temperature. I haven’t yet tried “Delia’s Excellent Sugar Cookies,” another of Mrs. Banchor’s recipes, but I would expect nothing less than stellar results from such a braggart.
Best Soft Ginger-bread Ever Made (1899)
Makes 16 squares
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup butter (small half) [I’m not sure what this means, maybe scant?]
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour
How to mix: Put the egg in a mixing dish and beat light [I did this with a fork to stay authentic to the time period], then add molasses, then the butter melted, then ginger, then flour, then water with soda dissolved in it, then the salt. Bake at 350 degrees in a buttered 8-by-8-inch pan for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting into squares.