1930 Fairy Gingerbread on Upside-Down Baking Pan

Platter of Fairy Gingerbread by BakeThisCake

Coffee Time Photo by Leslie Macchiarella for BakeThisCakeI’m thinking something gingerbread-y would be just about right. Something vibrant yet light. Buttery, crispy and fresh would be good. Something homebaked…and vintage. Like homemade graham crackers but way better. I say let’s light up the fireplace, pour some fresh-brewed coffee and crack open some old recipe books and have a look at…

“The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” by Fannie Merritt Farmer, published in 1896, Revised and Reprinted in 1930.

Well, lookie what I found?

American Cookery recipe for Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Only 5 ingredients in this light little ginger cookie and a recipe that calls for smoothing the batter ON THE BOTTOM (as in THE UNDERSIDE) of the baking pan. Okay! Haven’t done THAT before! haha!

Fairy Gingerbread:

Tools Needed for Fairy Gingerbread:
Cookie sheet pan (about 18″ x 13″)
Electric Mixer
2 Large mixing bowls (one for dry ingredients, one for batter)
Sifting device or whisk (I used a whisk)
Knife or offset spatula (I used an offset spatula to spread the dough)
Measuring cups and spoons
Aluminum foil (or wax paper or parchment) (for holding first-baked slices on the counter)

Ingredients for Fairy Gingerbread:
About 1 Tablespoon of butter (for greasing the pan)
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar (gently packed in the cup)
1/2 cup milk (we used 2%)
1-7/8 cup bread flour (this is 2 Tablespoons short of 2 cups)
2 teaspoons ginger (we used fine ground)
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon salt (I think it tastes better with this added salt)

Fairy Gingerbread Ingredients BakeThisCake

Recipe Notes: I only added here & there to fill gaps in the recipe directions. This is not a real tweaking-of-the-recipe or variation-on-a-theme because I wanted to stay true to this quaint and easy recipe. Okay, confession. I did switch the order of a couple of things and I specified some things not specified in the original recipe e.g. creaming the butter and sugar first, but that’s so it will will work perfectly for you.  We could have added vanilla and extra flavoring (like orange zest) but I think this lovely old-fashioned recipe works nicely with the simple ingredients stated (although it could use a hit of salt, especially since they could have been using salted butter to start with back in the day, so we added that an as optional ingredient). :)

Okay! Here we go!

Preheat the oven to 350 and set the oven rack to center position.

Flip over a cookie sheet pan (I used an 18″ x 13″ size) and butter the flip-side bottom of the pan quite liberally (maybe even going over it twice and a good rub of butter) and set it aside.
Tip: I just unwrapped half of a fresh cube of cold unsalted butter and rubbed the end of it all over the bottom of a pan (twice over).

Rubbing butter on bottom of pan Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Sift together (or whisk) and set aside:
1-7/8 cup flour (this is 2 cups less 2 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons ginger (we used fine ground)
Optional 1/2 teaspoons salt (I recommend adding salt)
Tip: I just whisked these ingredients together because I don’t like sifting but sifting properly is always a great thing to do. :)

Whisked flour and ginger Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Beat on high-speed with an electric blender until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes):
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Creamed Butter Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Beat into the creamed butter on high-speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes):
1 cup light brown sugar (gently packed in the cup)

Brown Sugar for Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Beat on low-speed while adding into the creamed butter-sugar mixture:
1/2 cup milk (we used 2%)
the prepared dry mixture

Tip: Adding half the dry ingredient and half the wet ingredients in 2 separate stages will make a nicer batter.

Beat for about 1 minute until thorough incorporated.

Tip: The final consistency of the batter should be like a thick, spreadable frosting. We’ve noticed that using different brands of bread flour can alter the thickness (aka viscosity) of the final batter so you may need to splash in a couple of Tablespoons of milk if your flour results in an overly thick batter that is not easy to spread. Here’s what the nice, spreadable batter should look like…

Blended batter Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Using a spatula or a long cake frosting knife, spread the batter evenly over the flip-side bottom (underside) of the prepared cookie pan.
Tip: You can put 3 big dollops of dough along the center of the pan and smoothed the dough out to the sides so that the butter coating will stay in place.

Spread batter on back of cookie sheet Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

It is important not to spread batter over the edges of the pan and to leave an edge of about half an inch for expanding dough when it bakes.
Tip: If your batter exceeds the edges of the pan, just scrape it away with the spatula or knife to get clean edges…but it doesn’t have to be perfect. :)

Cookie sheet spread with batter Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Pop it into the 350 degree oven as shown in the photo below and get ready for some fancy dancing.

Baking timing note: Although the total baking time for my batch was about 20 minutes, you will be rotating the pan and also to cutting away outer edges since the outer edges cook faster than the inner dough. Remember, your oven baking temperatures, thickness of the spread, etc. may impact timing so keep a keen eye out. :)

Fairy Gingerbreading baking in the oven BakeThisCake

Bake at 350 for about 7 minutes, then rotate the pan around fully in the oven to ensure even baking then bake for an additional 7 minutes, checking to be sure the gingerbread does not become too brown around the edges.

After 14 minutes of baking time, the outer edges should show golden coloring, and this signals the time to remove the pan from the oven.

Cut an outer strip of about 3 inches around the entire outer edge of the gingerbread.

Use a spatula to remove the baked outer strips and place them onto foil (or parchment or wax paper) that is laid out on the counter.

Tip: Check the bottoms of the cookies that you’ve removed. You should notice golden coloring on both the top and the bottom. If any cookies or strips of cookies remain white-ish in color, you may easily return them to the oven for a few more minutes of cooking without harm to the recipe.

Trimming outer edges durring baking Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

Return the pan to the oven for an additional baking time of about 6 minutes or until the center section has also turned to a golden color.

Here is the “center cut” with the edge pieces cut away so that the center section can get a little extra baking time. Now back into the oven with it for  more until golden in color.

Returning pan to oven Fairy Gingerbread BakeThisCake

While the “center-cut” of fairy gingerbread continues to bake, you must immediately cut the outer (removed) gingerbread into shapes because the cookies will crack in irregular shapes if you try to cut them once they are fully cooled.
Tip: I cut plain Jane squares (as the original recipe suggests) along with a few rectangles, but next time– diamonds would be nice…but don’t go gettin’ fancy on me or we might lose that vintage “edge”. ha!

Remember, the gingerbread will crisp as it cools BUT if you forget to cut the strips while they’re hot (as I did for some, you might try re-heating the gingerbread a bit (even in the microwave for about 20 seconds) to warm them enough to slice them nicely.

Fairy Gingerbread overhead Bake This Cake

I hope you’ve enjoyed our romp down history lane for these delightful little buttery ginger cookies!

Thank you for visiting and may all your cakes (and Fairy Gingerbreads) be vintage!


Fireplace BakeThisCake

2 thoughts on “1930 Fairy Gingerbread on Upside-Down Baking Pan

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