Molasses Stage Planks

A Treat from
Sugar Cane Country

Now I know sugarcane grows all over the world in warm to tropical climates, this fibrous grass is more than a commodity in the south; it’s a given institution as well. One of my grandmother’s cooks, Annie Bell, grew sugarcane and made some of the best cane syrup I remember to date. We would go out to her place in the country and watch as the stalks, one at a time, was fed into a juice extractor and powered by a mule like this one. The juice collected into buckets and hauled to a large kettle (at the time it seemed like 6 feet in diameter) and boiled over an open fire to make the syrup. Her helpers dipped the syrup into quart size cans or jugs and she sold it for a few dollars.

Another product of sugarcane is molasses, which is more concentrated than syrup due to longer boiling times and with the removal of some of the sugar. There are four grades of molasses depending on how much of the sugar is removed. Molasses contains more minerals and vitamins, especially iron, than the syrup or juice itself. Table grade molasses contains about 60 percent sugar and has for years been used as a sweetener for foods.

I’m sure this recipe has many names and is said to be a form of gingerbread. It comes from an old worn page I collected years ago which contains a few recipes mentioning ‘mammy’ type cookery. A similar recipe is called New Orleans Ginger Bread but I prefer this one. Enjoy!

Stage Planks

2 cups molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lard (Crisco or margarine will work)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
White flour (all-purpose)

Mix the lard with the boiling water and stir in the molasses, sugar, spices and salt. Now sift and mix in as much flour you need to make a firm dough. Use your hands to mold the dough into planks 4 to 6 inches long and about 3 inches wide and almost a half-inch thick. Place on greased pans two inches apart. Bake in a slow oven (about 300 degrees F.) and keep looking at them until nice and brown. Molasses is apt to burn quickly. These keep well several weeks if kept in a tin box.


  1. I did not know all this about molasses! Really interesting, informative post!!

  2. Anything with molasses in it is alright by me! Sounds tasty!

  3. I love freshly made sugar cane juice....sweet and refreshing. We used to plant a lot back home. It's good exercise for our teeth and gums if we bite into it and chew. This recipe looks interesting to me. Must be very delicious.

  4. Looks yummy. I recently learned that lard has less cholesterol than butter!

    Perhaps these cookies could be the beginning of a gingerbread sculpture?

  5. oh delicious ginger bread love to make the house at christmas to look like a log cabin with pretzel logs on the outside, or tootsie rolls lol . Very good post my mom used molasses in alot of things and always told me it was full of iron and good for us and interesting enough it is! thanks for the read !

  6. Fascinating! A really interesting recipe..I love that lard is used in this. It has the same calorie count as any other fat, why not use something that actually tastes good. I rarely buy Crisco anymore choosing to use a fat that lends something more that just the calories to a recipe.

  7. Very informative post, and i love the recipe:)

  8. I looove old recipes and I like that it uses pork lard... it's so unusual today.

  9. This ginger bread recipe sounds interesting! Might give it a try later on. Thanks for sharing it. Cheers.

  10. Why are they called stage planks?

  11. @margosmith - they are an old southern cookie called Estomac Mulatre baked by Creoles long ago for their race and a fact I did not mention means ‘fit only for a mulatto to digest’. The name comes from the appearance of flat wooden boards and later were recreated by bakeries with a pinkish or white frosting.


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