Gingerbread Recipe from Raleigh Tavern Bakery in Colonial Williamsburg

The Timeless Love of Gingerbread: Sweet Paul’s take on the heart-shaped gingerbread cakes served at the Raleigh Tavern Bakery in Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Gingerbread is a timeless celebration of love, family, and the holidays. It’s a key part of any Norwegian holiday and has had a place in the American culinary vernacular since colonial times. Here’s a colonial recipe updated a bit for our kitchens of today. I’m sure you’re going to love it!


This post is presented by Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg is the largest outdoor living museum in America, upholding their educational mission through immersive, authentic 18th- century experiences and programming for their guests.

Original Recipe from Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple,” 1796:

Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, one large nutmeg grated, then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread stiff; roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a teacup, or small glass; or roll them out like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a slack oven.

Spice up your table with a Colonial Williamsburg Apple Cider candle and WILLIAMSBURG King’s Arms Coverlet placemats. Shop for these items and more at:


You will need:
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
11⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup margarine, melted 1⁄2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup unsulfured molasses 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

  1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer combine the sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix well and add the melted butter, evaporated milk, extracts, and molasses.
  2. Mix well and then add the flour slowly until completely incorporated.
  3. The dough should be stiff and not too sticky. Add up to 1⁄2 cup additional flour to get it to the right consistency.
  4. Roll dough to a 1⁄4-inch thickness on a floured surface and cut using heart-shaped cutters.
  5. Bake at 375F on a greased or lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. They’re done when they spring back when touched.

My family’s gingerbread recipe, and this recipe, always calls for margarine, but you could experiment with butter if you wish.

Photography by Paul Lowe