Spicy gingerbread a favorite dessert

Gingerbread was one of Martha Washington's favorite desserts. The following is a modern adaptation of an old recipe. It is best when served warm with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This recipe comes from ''Cakes,'' in the Time-Life series of The Good Cook. Mount Vernon Gingerbread 23/4 cups sifted flour 21/2 teaspoons ginger 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 cup light molasses 1/2 cup light brown sugar 8 tablespoons butter 3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk 1/4 cup strained fresh orange juice 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Sift together the first seven ingredients. In a saucepan, combine the molasses, brown sugar, and butter, and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring it two or three times. Cool molasses mixture until lukewarm and stir it and the buttermilk or sour milk into the dry ingredients. Add orange juice and eggs, stirring until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into well-buttered and floured 9 by 14-inch pan and bake in preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold.

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