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Catholic Recipe: Orange Gingerbread


  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon each allspice and ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup light molasses
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Details

  • Yield: 1 9-inch square
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin: England

The children will be entranced to hear there's a gingerbread saint as well as a gingerbread man . . .

St. Oswald was an important figure in his day back in the seventh century. He was both a secular ruler and a churchman. As King of Northumbria and Emperor of Britain, he did much to uplift his people. As a religious leader, he converted scores of people from the pagan worship of Wotan and built monasteries and churches galore. His generosity to the poor was renowned. St. Oswald was killed at the battle of Maserfield in 642.

In Grasmere, England, St. Oswald's memory is honored on August 5 by an ancient rush-bearing ceremony when children strew rushes over the stone paving in the church. At the end of the ceremony each child is given a shiny penny and a piece of rich, orange-flavored gingerbread. No one knows the reason why, but nonetheless it's a charming tradition and orange gingerbread is a delightful treat. This feast is no longer on the General Roman Calendar.


Melt butter; cool. Beat sugar and egg together until well blended; add to butter. Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir in orange peel. Combine molasses, honey, and hot water; add alternately with dry ingredients to butter mixture; mix well. Bake in greased 9-inch square pan at 350° for 1 hour or until cake tests done.

Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965
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