By Kevin Williams
I've written this before, but it bears repeating again and again: The Amish vary widely in how they celebrate or observe Christmas. As a general rule the more conservative and isolated an Amish community is the less and less trappings of the holiday exist. In fact, I know of some very conservative Amish settlements that dot southern Indiana where Christmas Day is considered so unworthy of observing that some Amish businesses are open on that day. This, by the way, is not viewed as disrespect for Jesus's birthday it's just that some of the most conservative Amish don't really view birthdays in general as a "big deal" and aren't celebrated with cakes or presents and that goes for Jesus's too.
The larger an Amish community is and the less conservative its bent and the more it becomes influenced by outside secular influences the more trappings of the season you'll find. It's in these communities that the Amish really begin to celebrate the season through food. Even though Christmas lights and ornaments might be considered taboo, baked goodies, candies, and cookies all slanted to celebrate the season, well that is considered just fine!
Ditto for the Old Order Mennonites where this recipe comes from.
Recipe tester Karen from North Carolina gave this recipe a whirl and I'm really appreciate of her sharing her findings with us!
Karen says: "This is by far the best gingerbread I’ve ever had. It comes out so light; fluffy is a good way to describe it. This gingerbread is not overly sweet, so it would be a perfect ending to a heavy meal. The lemon sauce is superb - just the right combination of tart and sweet. It’s an easy recipe to make, and I give it 5 stars!"
Well, there you go, that's about as good as you get!
Keep in mind Karen's other advice about the molasses: " Here in the South I can easily get the milder sorghum molasses the recipe calls for, but I used Grandma’s brand regular unsulphured molasses for this recipe. Brer Rabbit brand molasses would work as well - whatever you can get in your area. Having baked in the past with the milder sorghum molasses, I think it would not impart that dark color and rich flavor that the regular stuff does." This advice will factor into another recipe I posted later this week that I made. So stay tuned. Anyway, to today!
So, here is this amazing Christmas recipe that comes from an Old Order Mennonite community in Virginia.
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 1 1 /2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 /2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 /2 teaspoon cloves
- 1 /2 cup butter
- 1 /2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 /4 cup sorghum molasses
- 1 cup boiling water
- Sift dry ingredients together.
- Cream sugar and butter and add eggs and 1 /4 flour mixture.
- Then add molasses.
- Add remaining flour and beat well and stir until boiling water until blended.
- Pour into greased 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
- Serve warm with lemon sauce or whipped cream
HOMEMADE LEMON SAUCE
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1 /4 cups sugar
1 /4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 egg yolks
1 1 /2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
Combine starch, sugar, lemon juice, and rind. Beat yolks and add to mixture. Gradually add boiling water. Heat to boiling and boil gently for two minutes. Add butter and serve warm over gingerbread.