My Scottish Great Grandmother

was called the Queen Bee" by some, Winifred Burt by many, and simply "Ma" by those who knew and loved her most. (I'm guessing this is what my grandmother called her mother and it simply caught on - this is what I always knew my great grandmother was called.) I remember her impeccable home, her impossible accent, and most of all, her enduring Old World Gingerbread loaf that my mom (the apple of my great grandmother's eye) still makes every Christmas day. Pictured below is my mom at age 3½ on Christmas morning in a dress matching the dress for her doll that my great grandmother made for them both. This portrait sits in my closet and it makes me smile every morning. I still have my great grandmothers' original Noritake gold-crested China from Scotland (cir. 1920) and the box with which she traveled through Ellis Island in 1925 on a luggage stand in my bedroom. A little melted butter and a bite of the gingerbread I'm transported back.

Ma's Old World Gingerbread

Yields 2 Loaves // Prep Time: : 15 // Total Cook Time: : 35


+ 1 cup shortening

+ 1 cup granulated sugar

+ 4 eggs

+ 1/3 cup Brer Rabbit light molasses (or any light molasses)

+ 4 cups sifted flour

+ 2 tsp. ginger

+ 2 tsp. cinnamon

+ 2 tsp. nutmeg

+ 1 cup milk

+ 2 tsp. baking soda (dissolved in 4 tsp. cold water)


+ sifter

+ stand or hand mixer

+ 2 loaf pans


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease two loaf pans.
  3. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar until well blended.
  4. In a second bowl, combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and continue to sift until fully blended.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and blend.
  6. Add milk and dry mixture, alternating, and blend.
  7. Add molasses and blend.
  8. Add dissolved baking soda.
  9. Pour evenly into loaf pans and bake uncovered for 50 minutes, or until loaves spring back to touch.
  10. Cool and enjoy with melted butter. (Microwave slice 15 seconds to melt butter and moisten bread.)