Colborne Lodge

Colborne Lodge was the home of John and Jemima Howard in 1870s. The restored lodge is now a permanent musem located inside High Park in Toronto, Ontario. The museum uses the kitchen of the old house to exhibit the settings of that period and has periodic demonstration of historic cooking.

Soft Gingerbread with Fruit

The recipe is an 18th century American innovation in which milk and eggs were added to the German gingerbread cookie doughs. The yolks and whites of the eggs were separated and beaten separately to allow more air into the dough for a lighter texture. The original recipe incorporated an old leavening agent of pearlash (refined potash or potassium carbonate).

1.5 lb. flour
0.5 lb sugar
0.5 lb butter
1 pint molasses
4 eggs
1 teacup milk
1 oz ginger
1 oz cinnamon
1 oz nutmeg
1 lb currants
2 tps pearlash
From: Anonymous,The Cook Not Mad; or, Rational Cooker (James MacFarland, Kingston, Upper Canada 1831: The Cherry Tree Press, Toronto, 1972 and 1982, page 42, number 127)

Modified Recipe by Colborne Lodge Museum

750 ml (3 cups) flour
125 ml (0.5 cup) soft butter
125 ml (0.5 cup) white sugar
250 ml (1 cup) molasses
2 medium eggs
125 ml (0.5 cup) milk
10 ml (2 tsp) ginger
10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon
10 ml (2 tsp) nutmeg
250 ml (1 cup) currants, plumped in hot water
5 ml (1 tsp) pearlash, dissolved in 10 ml (2 tsp) milk
Or 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda


Cream butter and sugar until very light. Whisk egg yolks separately for about 5 minutes to a pale yellow cream. Fold the egg to the butter and the sugar. Add molasses, baking soda, spices and currants. Blend in flour, one cup at a time, then add milk every time. Whisk egg whites to a stiff form, and fold into the batter. Spread the batter on a greased square cake pan. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 1 hour.

The Scadding Cabin

The cabin was Toronto's oldest house and was erected in 1794 on the east bank of the Don River at Queen Street. It was dismantled and moved by the York Pioneer and Historical Society to the present site near the Lakeshore Boulevard in 1879. The following recipe is from Mrs Scadding's Receipt Book - A Collection of Early Recipes The Scadding Cabin.

2.5 cup sifted flour
0.5 cup shortening
1.5 cup white sugar
1 cup molasses 1 egg, beaten
3/4 tps salt
1 tps ginger
1 tps cinnamon
1/2 tps cloves (ground?)
1 cup hot water


Cream butter and sugar, add egg and beat well. Mix hot water and molasses in another bowl. Sift dry ingredients to sugar. Add egg. Mix with wet ingredients a little by a little. Beat well to a smooth batter. Spread the batter to a square 9x9 inch baking pan lined with paper. Bake in a 350 degree C oven for about 45 minutes.