Cream of tartar is the best proof that the best things come in plain packages…or something like that. This amazing ingredient, although called cream, is just an ordinary powder. However, its powers are not to be underestimated. Cream of tartar can be added to various recipes to make them outstanding. Don’t have it in the pantry? Find out what to use as a cream of tartar substitute.
Cream of Tartar in the Gingerbread Recipe Made by George Washington’s Mom
This gingerbread was often cooked and served in the late 1700s by George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington. It is also known as Lafayette gingerbread because it was served to Marquis de Lafayette, a French general who visited Mrs. Washington in her Fredericksburg home before she died.
Records state that Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, continued her mother’s tradition and made the gingerbread at her home, the Kenmore Plantation, in Fredricksburg, Virginia.
Later, this recipe was forgotten until the 1920’s, when a handwritten copy was discovered by the Daughters of the American Revolution in the attic of Kenmore Plantation. They made copies to sell in order to raise money for the restoration of the house. The Hills Brothers bought it and started selling it as Dromedary Gingerbread Mix in supermarkets.
Why Use Cream of Tartar or Cream of Tartar Substitutes in This Gingerbread Recipe
This recipe has all the good things that make gingerbread everyone’s favorite recipe since colonial times (even though its origins ca be traced back to the Medieval ages!).
I love that Mrs. Washington uses molasses and light brown sugar as sweeteners, which certainly makes the cake healthier. It’s moist and spicy, and it includes brandy, which complements the molasses and ginger flavors beautifully. Alternatively, you can substitute coffee for brandy.
Cream of tartar in this recipe is used to boost the volume and make the cake extra soft and fluffy. It is often used together with baking soda to produce the effect of baking soda only doubled! That being said, here are the possible cream of tartar substitutes:
- Cream of tartar substitute no. 1 – baking powder (do not use baking soda in that case)
- Cream of tartar substitute no. 2 acidic substances like lemon juice and white vinegar. These cream of tartar substitutes that produce similar (but not same!) effects are. Make sure to use them alongside baking soda, but maybe you’ll need to reduce the amount of other acidic substances required in the recipe, like orange in this case.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (or cream of tartar substitute)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 orange
- 1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your baking pan with some butter.
Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cream of tartar substitute, baking soda.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add molasses and brown sugar and beat for one minute more. Fold in the flour mixture followed by warm milk, eggs, brandy, orange juice and zest. Beat for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Fold in the raisins.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then serve plain or topped with vanilla sauce