As a child, I was a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, and some of my favorites parts of those books are the descriptions of what they ate. Almanzo’s childhood culinary recollections in Farmer Boy are particularly vivid. It sort of sounds like a nonstop year-long dinner party! A few years ago I was fortunate to come across on the internet a letter that Laura, at that time in her 80s, sent to a friend in 1953, enclosing her recipe for gingerbread. It’s been a labor of love to create a healthier version of this pioneer treat that still does justice to the original flavor, but leaves out the eggs and lard.
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Combine the maple syrup, applesauce, molasses, and white vinegar in a second medium bowl.
4. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat. Add 1 cup hot water to the wet ingredients and stir.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing, but be careful to not over-mix. The mixture should be quite thin.
6. Transfer the batter to a 9 x 13-inch glass pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.