James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Eliza Leslie’s Lafayette Gingerbread

What is the History of Lafayette Gingerbread?

This gingerbread recipe comes from Eliza Leslie’s last cookbook, Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book (1857).  In the nineteenth century, many baked goods were named in honor of the famous Lafayette.  The Revolutionary War general, Lafayette had died long before her book appeared.

Gingerbread Serving Ideas

This spicy gingerbread has an especially light and tender texture. Serve the cake warm (fabulous!) or at room temperature. It is divine with a spoon of softly whipped cream.

Eliza Leslie's Lafayette Gingerbread


  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses ( I use Grandma's )
  • 1 large orange zest finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons brandy


  • Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and set it aside.
  • Resift the flour with the baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, mace, and nutmeg; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beaters.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. The batter will look curdled.
  • Add the molasses and beat for 1 minute.
  • Add the orange zest and juice, and beat on low speed until incorporated. (Don't worry if the batter looks curdled again; it will become smooth when the last of the flour is mixed in.)
  • Combine the milk with the brandy in a measuring cup. On low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition only until smooth.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level it by shaking the pan gently from side to side.
  • Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. This cake keeps well covered, at room temperature, for 1 to 3 days.

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