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Molasses Cup Cakes

June 11, 2011

A big shout out to the Living History Farms Guild who, last weekend, hosted the Big as a Barn Garage Sale.  This annual sale raises funds to support the historic sites of Living History Farms.  As host of a yearly grant cycle, staff members can write requests for new (or old) items for the farms, or for a specific projects.  In the past couple of years the 1900 farm has received a new croquet set, a new team of draft horses, new pasture fencing and orchard trees, and a new cream separator with support from the Guild and their illustrious garage sale. You may see some of those items featured here later on this summer.

In addition, staff members can shop the sale for items to be used on sites and this year, we got lucky!  Hilary and I were discussing what to write in our grant proposal this year and we decided we wanted some new pots and pans.  Well, really we want old ones, but new to us.  Low and behold, when walking through the garage sale tent we came across one of the very pans we were searching for!

In the 1902 Sears and Roebuck Catalog this pan sells for 17 cents.  Luckily, ours was free and a real treasure to find.  Of course, the very next day I couldn’t wait to use the pan so I decided to make Molasses Cup Cakes.

Molasses Cup Cakes

One cupful of butter, one of sugar, six eggs, five cupfuls of sifted flour, one tablespoonful of cinnamon, two tablespoonfuls of ginger, three teacupfuls of cooking molasses, and one heaping teaspoonful of soda. Stir the butter and sugar to a cream; beat the eggs very light, the yolks and whites separately, and add to it; after which put in the spices; then the molasses and flour in rotation, stirring the mixture all the time; beat the whole well before adding the soda, and but a little afterwards.  Put into well buttered patty-pan tins and make in a very moderate oven. A baker’s recipe.

– from page 274 of The Original White House Cookbook, 1887 Edition

From what I can figure out, a patty pan is a muffin tin with rounded bottoms, but my new gem pan (and your cupcake tin) will work just fine for this. Just make sure that you grease or line your pan, this is molasses after all.

If you didn’t notice, this recipe is quite large, I halved it and still made nearly 2 dozen cupcakes.  Be careful not to fill your gem pan tins too full; the first batch that I made rose out of the pan and I was cleaning cupcake batter out of the oven.  Speaking of oven, these say to bake in a very moderate oven.  As my wood- burning oven doesn’t have a temperature gauge I can’t tell you exactly what temperature to bake at, but I would start around 275 degrees.  If it seems like they are not getting done, bump it up a little bit.  You just want them to rise and bake all around.  These cupcakes will rise considerably.  Like molasses cookies, the cupcakes are good plain, but a simple drizzle of white icing might jazz them up a bit.  Next time I make them I will try and post a picture of the finished product.

After I made the cupcakes I took some over to our friends at the Guild who were delighted to know that something we were going to request in a grant was something we found at the garage sale.  Someone’s junk truly is someone else’s treasure.  We hope to enjoy many different recipes in our new gem pan.  Put the last weekend in May on your calendar for next year and come find your own treasure.

Read more posts on the LHF Blog


In the Kitchen   Recipes


  • Janet Figg says:

    A moderate oven is 325 or 350 degrees.

  • Pioneer Jessie says:

    The popcorn balls recipe that calls for Molasses, is that from the White House Cook Book. Would you mind giving out that Recipe too.

    • No problem Jessie. That recipe is actually for Pop-Corn Balls No. 3. from the White House Cookbook. It goes like this:

      Take three large ears of popcorn (rice is best). After popping, shake it down in pan so the unpopped corn will settle at the bottom; put the nice white popped in a greases pan. For the candy, take one cup of light brown or white sugar, one tablespoonful of vinegar. Boil until it will harden in water. Pour on the corn. Stir with a spoon until thoroughly mixed; then mold into balls with the hand.

      Hope this is what you were looking for. Enjoy!

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