Author's Note: My family owned a cottage on a lake in Connecticut, and one of my favorite activities was attending the local town and county fairs. I was so excited when I found this cookbook at our local library book sale. I love gingerbread, and this book includes almost half a dozen delicious recipes for it. I couldn't resist including a recipe inspired by the one described as "deep, dark gingerbread like Grandmother used to make." Country Fair Cookbook: Every Recipe a Blue Ribbon Winner (1975)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
Sift or stir the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt together.
In another bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well, then beat in the molasses.
Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, alternating with the hot water. Beat the batter well after each addition to combine the ingredients. Stir in the crystallized ginger if using.
Pour the batter into the greased 9-inch square baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is done. This can be determined by either pressing the top to see if it bounces back or inserting a toothpick that comes out clean.
I made this twice, but the second time I used my mini Bundt pans to bake. Reduce the baking time to 20 minutes, then start checking every 2 minutes for doneness.