Civil War Project: Major Fail

I fully intended to write a post on my latest attempt using “Civil War Recipes: Godey’s Lady’s Book”.  In fact,  I would say that I tried my most ambitious recipe yet and tried to bake something. My first baking attempt was a Lemon Gingerbread.  The idea sounds tasty and after looking the recipe over I thought it seemed simple enough.

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The recipe is as follows:

Grate the rinds of two or three lemons, and add the juice to a glass of brandy; then mix the grated lemon in one pound of flour, make a hole in the flour, pour in half a pound of treacle (molasses), halve a pound of butter melted, the lemon-juice, and brandy, and mix all up together with half an ounce of ground ginger and quarter of an ounce of Cayenne pepper.

Let me tell you how this “simple enough” recipe turned out.


It literally came out has heavy and as dense as a brick. You might be saying, “So let’s see it” but that is another fail. I thought I had downloaded the picture of the lemon gingerbread brick, but apparently I didn’t because I cannot find the pictures anywhere and I’ve already seem to have deleted them from my camera. But, it really wasn’t much different than the picture above.

Notice that in the recipe, there is no mention of what kind of pan to use or how long it needs to bake. I figured that a loaf pan would be most appropriate. I baked it in the oven at 350 for a least an hour, but when I tested the center it didn’t seem to be done yet. The bread was starting to over brown on the top. I tented it with some aluminum foil and let it go another 3o minutes or more. When I turned it out it made a very dramatic “thump”, and the crust resembled concrete. Sounds tasty, right? But wait, I am not done yet. After letting it cool for a bit, I slice…err hacked into the loaf and the center still looked wet. What the heck! It was as if I had made an adobe brick!

I tried the “crust”, and it had a good flavor with a boozy sting, but it was hard as a rock. Not a gingerbread I would recommend gifting during Christmas. Unless, you don’t like the person and want put a special twist on coal gifting.

Who knows, maybe brick bread was the deal back in the 1860s? Maybe I am a really bad baker. The point is if I am ever trapped in a bakery that is damaged by some random attack I can rebuild it with some lemon gingerbread. It could happen.


  1. Judy says

    Well, one can see what’s wrong with that recipe….no leavening at all! No eggs, soda, baking powder……..nothing that would make it rise up nice & fluffy, or at least less brick-like. Maybe the flour was supposed to be self rising flour? That stuff is fairly standard for the south.

  2. Jane says

    Wow. I admire you for trying!

    There doesn’t appear to be any leavening ingredient in there at all. Were baking soda/baking powder available at that time?

  3. Susan says

    Best line ever: “The point is if I am ever trapped in a bakery that is damaged by some random attack I can rebuild it with some lemon gingerbread. It could happen.”

  4. Monica says

    LOL! I have a 1893 Worlds Fair book and the recipes read absolutely ridiculous! I haven’t been brave enough to try! But your fail is inspiring. I think i will!

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