We love Williamsburg Virginia. Anytime we get some vacation time, you can find us there. If you have never visited this living history museum, you need to make the time to do so. It is not a place you can visit on an afternoon, you can spend days, even weeks and not see it all. My wife and I can spend hours at an exhibit,only to return another day and spend additional hours. Our last visit, we watched how they built the kilns to dry bricks, spent several hours at different cooking demonstrations, had a visit with Thomas Jefferson, watched the wig maker, and the cooper.
One thing is certain, if you are looking for me, at 10 AM, you can find me at the Raleigh Tavern bake shop. Every morning the baker fires up the two wood fired ovens and bakes ginger cakes. There is nothing better than those beautiful cakes hot from the oven. Yes, I will be there every morning, on our entire stay. Have even been known to get a couple for the road when leaving.
To say I am obsessed is an understatement. I have spent years trying to recreate those delectable treats, and although I have the taste down pat, I can't get the look right. Mine have a shiny top with little cracks, theirs are a satin finish with little dimples caused by the baking soda. I even have several copies of their recipe, but still no luck.
Here is my current variation.
In a stand mixer add:
Two sticks of butter
3/4 cup of molasses
1/4 cup of cane syrup
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
1/4 cup of evaporated milk
Cover and mix well.
In an other bowl, add all the the dry ingredients.
4 cups pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ginger
I teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet about a half cup at a time. If dough is sticking, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time until a dough ball forms. It should be smooth. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop balls of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Leave about a. two inch gap between each cookie. With the palm of you hand, lightly flatten the cookie, but keep a domed shape to them.
Place in a preheated oven set at 375 for about 18 minutes. Like a cake the cookies are done when a tooth pick inserted in the center come out clean.
Move to a wire rack to cool.
Now grab a glass of milk and a couple of cookies and enjoy.