Lafayette Gingerbread Cake

George Washington’s mother may have served this spicy, buttery, raisin-spiked gingerbread cake to her son’s lieutenant general (and the dessert’s namesake), the Marquis de Lafayette in the 1780s, but we first baked a version of it in SAVEUR No. 9 (Nov/Dec 1995). Most recently, it ran in our Jan/Feb 2014 SAVEUR 100 issue with the article 20 Years of SAVEUR: Gingerbread Dreams.

Lafayette Gingerbread Cake Lafayette Gingerbread Cake
According to tradition, this gingerbread cake was made in the 1780s by George Washington's mother for General Lafayette.
Yield: serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour, plus more
  • 2 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 12 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground mace
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 34 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest, plus ⅓ cup fresh juice
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 12 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and mace in a bowl. Stir raisins, buttermilk, orange zest, and juice in another bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Stir in molasses. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth. Add dry and wet ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with dry, beating until smooth. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Let cool before slicing; serve with whipped cream, if you like.