The Historical Society has several hand-written books of receipts, or recipes, in our collections. Our earliest book, which appears to date to the mid-18th century, includes a recipe for gingerbread. A generation or more later, in 1801, Mrs. Whitehorne of Newport documented at least 6 recipes for gingerbread, which was clearly a long-standing holiday favorite in early Newport. Here is her recipe for Fruit Gingerbread, with modern equivalences and instructions.
3 pounds flour, one pound butter, one pound sugar, one pint molasses, one ounce Ginger, six eggs, one teaspoon pearlash dissolved in a cup of Milk, one pound Currants, one pound raisins, Mace and Cloves as you please.
This recipe did not include instructions, and makes three 9 x 11 trays of gingerbread. To make it, preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar, and mix in the eggs. Add the molasses, powdered spices, and the milk mixed with one teaspoon baking power (pearlash was a leavening agent). Incorporate the flour. Pour the batter into the pans and bake about 40 minutes until done.