Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vintage Kitchen: Brer Rabbit's New Orleans Molasses Recipes

I've been craving gingerbread now that Fall has arrived and I knew it was the perfect recipe to find in a vintage cookbook.  Looking through the stack of old cookbooks I hit the jackpot in terms of gingerbread, this 1948 Brer Rabbit's Molasses Company cookbook.  A lot of the old cookbooks that I've bought at estate sales are of this variety-- an extended advertisement for a product.  Many others are old church cookbooks put together by the members for fundraising purposes.  Both types are very interesting in terms of advertising of the day.

I love to read rules like this.  Note that number ten states, "Never cut hot gingerbread with a knife.. always pull apart gently with 2 forks."  Of course I immediately want to cut it with a knife after reading that.  Why is it such an absolute?

From this I learned that if I add an egg to my oatmeal along with apricots and molasses, I might achieve the most iron-rich meal possible.  Good to remember if ever I become anemic.  Did I ever write about adding an egg to oatmeal?  You just crack it in there right when the oatmeal comes off the stove, and stir it well.  The hot oatmeal cooks the egg, and your oatmeal becomes sort of custardy-- richer tasting and really creamy.  It's delicious, and was not my idea, but I stopped reading the blog from which I got the idea... and can't remember what it was called.  (Oh yeah, here it is thanks to a quick google search Bread & Honey).

There are a lot of gingerbread recipes in this cookbook, ranging from traditional to tropical, but I just went with the first one, "My Best Gingerbread."  It's definitely good, and tastes distinctly of molasses.  I have an organic molasses purchased from the food co-op, not the Brer Rabbit brand, and mine is very dark.  If using a lighter molasses, the flavor would be milder.  My gingerbread also turned out a bit denser than I expected.  Don't know if my baking powder is getting old, or its an altitude issue?  It's not too dense to eat or anything, just reporting the results.

The cookbook also has lots of recipes that I wouldn't think of making with molasses, like the smothered pork chops above, or the veal goulash.  Both sound good.  I've never actually cooked veal though, and I'm not actually sure I've eaten it for that matter.  Reason right there to try it.

My Best Gingerbread-Best gingerbread you ever tasted!

1/2 cup shortening
12 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Brer Rabbit Molasses
1 cup hot water

Cream together shortening and sugar.  Add egg; beat well.  Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Combine molasses and water; add alternatively with flour mixture.  Line 8"x8"x2" greased pan with greased waxed paper; pour in batter.  Bake in moderate oven, 350° F., 50-60 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.

Brer Rabbit New Orleans Molasses Recipes, © 1948, Penick & Ford, Ltd., Incorporated; New Orleans.


  1. this is the gingerbread I've been making for 50 yrs. (can't quite get a grip on that statement!)

    It doesn't get any better than this.

  2. Anon--
    That's quite an endorsement, 50 years of the same recipe! I'm sure you started baking at a very tender age, right? ;-)

  3. Yes, I started baking before I was even born!

  4. My brother & I been trying in vain to find my Mom's old gingerbread recipe...we all adored it!! In the 50's I was her "wing-girl", measuring the shortening & that slow molasses...while she would assume the difficult jobs like adding the boiling water (we have to be very careful!) The whole house "bloomed" with aroma while it baked for close to an hour...mmmm! I laughed when I saw the cover of your pamphlet...she had the very same one! It seemed to always be printed on the Brer Rabbit label too (wish they'd bring it back!) By the way...there's probably nothing wrong with your leavening agent...this recipe produces a beautiful dense,dark,rich gingerbread...perfect for a crisp Fall day! I can't wait to recreate it! Thanks so've made my day!

    1. @Judy B., glad to help! Hope its the same as you remember!