The recipe was created by George Washington's mother, Mary Ball Washington and passed onto his sister, Betty Washington Lewis whom lived at Kenmore Plantation. At the time the recipe was found in 1922, the mansion was in dire disrepair and DAR was about to lose the home because they could not meet their financial obligations
The Kenmore Plantation was a comforting place for the thousands of soldiers based at Ft. AP Hill. They would travel to downtown Fredericksburg to relax and enjoy their military breaks. The ladies of DAR served ice tea and gingerbread to over 60,000 soldiers on the lawn at Kenmore.
In the 1930's DAR heard that the cake mix company Dromedary was holding a gingerbread recipe contest, the winner of the recipe would be offered a deal to package their gingerbread into a simplified mix. Kenmore's Gingerbread recipe beat out some stiff competitors including a Pillsbury recipe and went on to secure a $38,000 deal with Dromedary. They also made a deal to receive the cake mixes at a steep discount. The mixes were used to serve hundreds of thousands of visitors at Kenmore until the late 1980s.
I can vividly remember sitting in the dining room at Kenmore on a field trip with a warm cup of tea and thick slice of gingerbread, it was absolutely delicious.
Mary Ball Washington's Gingerbread
3 c. all purpose flour
Butter for the pan
2 T. ground ginger
1 t. cream of tarter
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 large orange
1/8 tsp. ground mace
1/2 c. lightly salter butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. molassas
1/2 c. warm milk
2 oz. brandy or coffee
3 large eggs, beaten
Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 13" pan with butter.
Sift flour into large bowl and stir in ginger, cream of tarter, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace.
Grate orange zest and cut orange in half. You'll want to get 4 Tablespoons of juice from the orange. Place zest and juice in a small bowl, set aside. Place butter into large bowl and beat until creamy, add brown sugar and molasses and beat until smooth. Fold in flour mixture along with milk, brandy, eggs, orange juice and zest. Beat until smooth.
Place batter into prepared pan. Bake until the cake is set and the top springs back slightly with pressed, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool in pan for about 10-15 and then serve warm with whip cream.