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Subject: gingerbread cake
From: Jen
Date: 9/21/2021, 5:07 PM

On 9/21/2021 1:15 PM, Jen wrote:

Hi Phaedrus! Can you please help find a recipe for gingerbread cake? 
It appeared in Gourmet Magazine in the mid-to-late 80s and called for 
Steen's Cane Syrup, which I have finally acquired. The recipe was great 
made with regular molasses but I'd like to try it as written. The author 
might have been Laurie Colwin. It probably included homemade lemon brandy 
too, which I had to sub with lemon extract as I was not old enough to buy 
alcohol when I got the magazine. Thank you.


Hi Jen,

I don't know if it was ever published in Laurie Colwin's column in "Gourmet Magazine", but the recipe that you describe was in Laurie Colwin’s book "Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen". She was a big fan of both Steen's Cane Syrup and of lemon brandy.

The recipe is posted below and on this site: Every Day Cooking Adventures

I don't know if you can actually buy "lemon brandy" itself, but Colwin tells you how to make it: “I also add two teaspoons of lemon brandy, a heavenly elixir easily homemade by taking the peel from two lemons, cutting very close to get mostly zest, beating up the peels to release the oils and steeping them in four ounces of decent brandy.”

You might be interested in these websites:




Gingerbread Recipe from: Laurie Colwin in "Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen"

Makes: 9-inch cake


Butter and flour (for the pan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (preferably Steen’s brand)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 heaping Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. lemon brandy or vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with a little yogurt beaten into it)

1. Set the oven at 350ºF. Lightly butter and lightly dust with flour a 
9-inch round cake pan.

2. Cream the butter with the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy then add the 
molasses. Beat in two eggs.

3. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and ground ginger (the ginger amount 
can be adjusted to taste, but I like it very gingery). Add the cinnamon, 
ground cloves and ground allspice.

4. Add the lemon brandy. If you don’t have any, use plain vanilla extract. 
Lemon extract will not do. Then add the buttermilk (or milk with a little 
yogurt beaten into it) and turn batter into the buttered tin.

5. Bake the cake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking it after 20 minutes, until 
a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.