Diane St. Clair’s Old-fashioned Spicy Gingerbread

There are two very different desserts going by the name “gingerbread” in this country. One is a stiff, rolled-dough cookie, which is commonly used around Christmastime to make gingerbread houses and other constructions. The other, far less common (at least in my family), is a spicy quickbread. I can’t speak to which one of these is properly “old-fashioned”, but Diane St. Clair calls hers “old-fashioned spicy gingerbread”, and at least on the “spicy” bit I see no reason to disagree. It is quite spicy — two tablespoons of China No. 1 ground ginger will do that — but that’s entirely necessary to keep from being overpowered by the strong molasses flavor.

This recipe comes from St. Clair’s The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook (p. 162), but it’s hardly unusual to include buttermilk as part of the leavening formula in a quickbread, so one would not be surprised to see a similar recipe in any good baking cookbook. I used commercial buttermilk, rather than “proper”, since all of the latter that I had was wasted last night in the failure of my lasagna. There’s only half a cup, so it provides acidity and liquid, but doesn’t have much effect of the texture of the batter. The batter is constructed by the creaming method, with all brown sugar (I used dark muscovado), which is joined in the liquid phase by the buttermilk, eggs, and a whole cup of molasses. After combining the dry ingredients, just plop it in a nine-inch loaf pan and bake (350°F for 50 minutes), and presto:

Photo showing a loaf of gingerbread sittiing on a wire cooling rack

After cooling in the pan for 15 minutes, the loaf depans easily and must cool for another hour or so.

St. Clair claims that the recipe makes 8 servings. Those would be awfully large servings; I reserved two slices and cut the remaining slices in half to be a more appropriate after-lunch serving:

Photo showing four slices from a loaf of gingerbread. Two of the slices have been further cut in half.

Sliced and ready for storage (or eating!)

After seeing the nutrition data, you’ll understand why I think these slices are too large! (I’ve recalculated on the basis of cutting the loaf into 16 slices.)


Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/2 slice
Servings per container: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 190 Calories from fat 55
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6g 9%
 Saturated Fat 3.6g 12%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 154mg 6%
Potassium 119mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 10%
 Dietary fiber <1g
 Sugars 21g
Proteins 4g 8%
Vitamin A 9%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 8%
Iron 8%
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