Mary Washington’s Gingerbread Without Gluten or Dairy

When I was very young, my mother took me to visit George Washington’s mom’s home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The house seemed huge to me (it is not). At the end of the tour, a costumed cook served us Mary’s gingerbread in the antique house’s 18th century kitchen.

I re-visited Mary’s house recently, and was surprised by how small it is. The day I visited, the cook was on vacation, but I managed to snare a copy of the gingerbread recipe in the gift shop. I took it home and tinkered with it to create a gluten-free, dairy-free version.

Worried that I’d mar my memory of that gingerbread, I didn’t dare mess with the sugar content (mostly molasses), but I swapped out the wheat flour and butter for gluten-free, dairy-free ingredients.

I added only one ingredient, xanthan gum, not in the original recipe. Gluten-less flour can be too dry without the elasticity xanthan gum provides. I kept all the other ingredients, including those not often found in gingerbread, including mace, brandy, raisins and orange juice.

It was a lot more work than the easy-peasy gingerbread I usually make, but the result was fantastic. Mary W (more likely her cook) sure knew how to make gingerbread. Try it, and see for yourself.

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Mary Washington’s Gingerbread Without Gluten or Dairy

The complex flavoring of Mary Washington's delightful 18th century gingerbread includes brandy, orange juice, raisins and mace.


  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • ½ cup non-dairy butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ cup warm non-dairy milk
  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 2 tablespoons powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mace
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • Juice and grated rind of 1 large orange
  • 1 cup raisins.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Grease 1 large sheet pan or 2 loaf pans and line the bottom of the pan(s) with parchment paper.


In a large bowl, whisk together the cream of tartar, baking soda and flour


In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the dairy-free butter and brown sugar.


Stir in the molasses, milk, brandy, ginger nutmeg, cinnamon and mace.


In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs until they are frothy.


Slowly alternate stirring the flour mixture and beaten eggs into the the butter mixture.


Beat in the orange juice and grated orange rind until the mixture is light and fluffy.


Stir in the raisins, and pour the batter into the pan or pans.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes.


Allow to cool, cut into squares, and serve with non-dairy whipped cream.

Springhouse Turtle


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