This recipe is adapted from the vintage soft gingerbread recipe that appears in Old Receipts from Old St. Johns; it is attributed to Northampton Plantation. Gone now, the plantation on the lower Santee River was home to an illustrious line of owners, among them General William Moultrie. Born in Charleston to Scottish parents, Moultrie became a Revolutionary War hero and an admired friend of George Washington. In the mid-nineteenth century the noted botanist Dr. Henry Ravenel lived at Northampton and assembled his mycological collection, which would provide the basis for his treatise on mushrooms in America—the first book of its kind. After Ravenel the plantation passed back into the hands of Lowcountry Scots, whose recipes for gingerbreads are varied.

This is a fine-crumbed, old-fashioned, cakelike gingerbread. Serve with crème fraîche (page 24) or boiled custard.

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  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups loosely packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup whiskey
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) unbleached (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup milk


Grease an 11- by 15-inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°. In the work bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the molasses and whiskey. Sift in the flour and ginger and blend well. Stir the soda into the milk and add to the batter, mixing well. Turn the batter out into the greased pan and bake until “it leaves the tin,” about 45 minutes—or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean. Serve warm at room temperature.