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.

From A Plant-Based Life: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body

baking recipes in a pandemic

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole-grain flour (I prefer spelt, though if you want to go gluten-free, this is a good opportunity to use buckwheat. Try half buckwheat and half oat.)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Instructions

  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.

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about the author

Micaela Karlsen, MSPH

Micaela Karlsen, PhD, is the author of A Plant-Based Life and a contributor to the New York Times best-seller Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health. She currently serves as Research Director for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Micaela holds a PhD in nutritional epidemiology from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and an MSPH in human nutrition and public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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