Yesterday, one of my little ones asked me to make gingerbread. What a lovely idea for a cold and blustery February day!

The only problem was, I had let us run clean out of sugar. Not one granule of white or brown sugar was there, in this whole house. And my usual recipe uses both molasses and sugar.

Thankfully, I am very blessed to have a number of excellent cookery books on my shelves. For the next 20 minutes, my little ones and I took them all down and combed through each one, looking for gingerbread recipes that called for only molasses, and no sugar.

I should have known that dear Miss Parloa would be our salvation. In her wonderful Appledore Cook Book, she shares not one but two soft gingerbread recipes that require only molasses for sweetening.

1800s cookbook recipe for soft molasses gingerbread

I have come to notice in Miss Parloa’s cook books that when she lists multiple recipes for a certain dish, they seem to be listed in order of her own preference for the finished product. So we opted to make her Soft Molasses Gingerbread, No. 2., rather than No. 3, which also relies only on molasses for its sweetness.

The instructions are very easy to follow, and we were delighted with the results. This is an excellent frugal recipe for soft molasses gingerbread, which requires only six ingredients. It puts a delicious gingerbread well within reach of anyone, even if sugar, eggs, and butter are not available, or are too expensive for common baking.

soft molasses gingerbread from 1800's recipe

If I ever had occasion to serve gingerbread to the President, I would still likely opt for a “Rich Molasses Gingerbread” recipe, with eggs and additional spices. This is not perhaps what you might call a “company gingerbread” recipe.

But for family cookery, it is affordable, easy, and very nice. My little ones were delighted with it, and could have gobbled down the whole pan at once, if I let them!

The recipe below has been adapted only to allow for modern leavening, and ovens. For the exact original recipe using saleratus, please reference “Soft Molasses Gingerbread, No. 2.” in the photo above.

Miss Parloa's Soft Molasses Gingerbread (1800's Recipe)

Miss Parloa's Soft Molasses Gingerbread (1800's Recipe)

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

This 1800's recipe for soft molasses gingerbread is very easy and requires only 6 ingredients. Sweetened only with molasses, and spiced with ginger, it's delicious.


  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon butter or lard
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups flour


  1. Heat oven to 375
  2. To a mixing bowl, add molasses, baking powder, ginger, and butter or lard.
  3. Stir this together, and then pour on one half a cup of boiling water, and the flour. Beat well.
  4. Spread in a well-greased 8x8 pan.
  5. Bake until set in the center, about 18 minutes.


This is very nice if pains are taken to have the water boiling, and to beat it well when the flour is added. ~ M. Parloa

For those with modern refrigeration methods, this recipe works best when butter or lard is at room temperature, rather than very cold. It is worth taking time to let butter soften before making the recipe. ~ F. Nelson

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 2g

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