If you like to mix some culinary history with your meals, than you will love The Hamilton Cookbook Gingerbread Cake by Laura Kumin. This post does contain affiliate links.
Do you have Hamilton fever? My 12-year old daughter certainly does. My little theatrical-diva LOVES all things musical theater and performs with her small theater class twice a year. She started listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton in her choir class last year. She even sang one of the solos during a choir concert.
Middle Child was also in choir and the two were constantly singing Hamilton songs together, which of course led to me purchasing the soundtrack so they could keep on singing and dancing 24/7.
When it was announced that the traveling production of Hamilton was coming to San Diego, these two kids were giddy with excitement. My sister-in-law happily took all three kids to see the musical last month. So needless to say, Hamilton fever is still running wild and free in my house.
And why not? Who says there is only one way to learn about US History? Anything that can make our kids light up with excitement over learning is alright in my book.
So when fellow food blogger, Laura Kumin from Mother Would Know, announced she had written The Hamilton Cookbook, I knew I had to get my hands on it. It is not a traditional cookbook, in the sense that it is only full of recipes. It is a bit of a history lesson, a food history lesson, teaching us the life and dining habits our forefathers during this pivotal moment in history. As we read this fascinating cookbook together, we both got completely hooked.
Laura gives you a nice variety of recipes to choose from so you could host your own 18th century feast. She also includes a photocopy of the 18th century text that the recipe was adapted from. Reading those old recipes are super fascinating for me.
Not every recipe might seem appealing to today’s palate, but Laura shows us in all honesty the kinds of meals that the Hamiltons would have eaten. I was immediately drawn to the desserts in this cookbook. Have you ever visited an 18th-century kitchen? Everything was cooked over fire – now you know THAT really gets my attention!
All of these elaborate meals and desserts were created before electricity and with wood burning stoves. Luckily, Laura took the task of updating the ingredients and cooking techniques so the recipe could be prepared in today’s modern kitchen.
I first made the Chocolate Puffs — my daughter loved the name, of course. Laura warns you that these are rich and sweet, which they are. These Chocolate Puffs are a cross between a cookie and a candy. I personally liked them warm and right out of the oven. With my curiosity piqued, I decided to try something else.
So I also baked the Hamilton Cookbook Gingerbread Cake. The cake was pretty straightforward to make. I reminded myself I had it easy because I used an electric mixer to whip up the cake batter. Laura warns you that the recipe yields a 2-inch thick cake. So you could easily divide this batter into two 9-inch cake pans to make a two layer cake, or bake it one 9-inch springform pan (if you don’t have a cake pan with 2-inch sides).
My whole family loved this cake, as we are all big fans of gingerbread cookies. The cake was moist and a little dense, which I liked as it made a nice snack-like cake. But what I really loved, was the spiciness flavor of the cake. It wasn’t super sugary sweet like the Chocolate Puffs.
I decided to decorate the gingerbread cake with what I imagined would have been popular during those colonial times. I found a lace doily and used it as a stencil for the powdered sugar I sprinkled over the cake. And of course, fresh berries. Lots and lots of fresh berries!
So if you are feeling scrappy and hungry, or if you just want to give a little history lesson over dinner time, you must get your hands on The Hamilton Cookbook (order on Amazon here). It’s half history book and half cookbook and 100% fun!
So, does your family have Hamilton fever, too???!!!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 boiling water
- 1 cup unsulphured molasses
- Zest from 1/2 lemon, about 1 tsp grated zest
- 2 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Spray or butter a 9-inch round pan with 2-inch sides (like a springform pan) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium size bowl whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and baking soda.
- In another medium size bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and airy.
- Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a large glass measuring cup or small bowl until completely combined.
- Stir lemon zest in with the molasses.
- Divide approximately half of the flour mixture into 3 portions and stir into the creamed butter mixture until combined.
- Alternate adding eggs with the remainder of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
- Transfer the thick, stiff batter into prepared pan and smooth out top with a knife or spatula.
- Bake 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife along the sides of the pan, then remove cake and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cake will stay moist, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days.