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Grantham White Gingerbread


Round, pale, domed biscuits made with white wheat flour, egg, white sugar and slightly raised with soda. Distinctively 'white' from being sweetened with white sugar, rather than with treacle.

Image: hawkensgingerbread.com

Original Receipt from Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 11 September 1925

E. M. A - Here is a recipe for Grantham Gingerbread: 2lb of flour, 3 1/2 oz of butter, 1 1/2 lb of sugar, 1 oz ginger, half cup milk, 1/2 oz volatile salts. Melt butter and sugar and mix altogether. Bake in moderate oven.

Finger-form Grantham Gingerbread
Image: Alex Bray

Original Receipt from Grantham Journal - Friday 31 August 1951

Oakham recipe for the Grantham Gingerbread
A recent article in the “Journal.' headed “Grantham Gingerbread: Is this the secret recipe?" has drawn the comment from 84-years-old Mrs. E. J Ellingworth. of 14, Melton road, Oakham, that it is not: Carefully opening her old family recipe book, which dates back over 100 years Mrs. Ellmgworth read the following ingredients for the white “Grantham Gingerbread": 1 lb. of flour: 1 1/2 lb. of powdered sugar: 1/2 lb. of butter; 1 oz. of ground ginger: 1 teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda: and one egg. Instructions for cooking are; Rub the butter well into the flour, add the sugar with beaten egg. rub well together for 10 minutes, and then bake in a slow oven for 10 minutes. When cooked, said Mrs. Ellingworth. the gingerbread should have risen, leaving the inside hollow. While looking through this treasure book. Mrs Ellingwonh came across the following recipe for the now non-existent “Feast cake." which she says was baked by everyone for the Oakham Feast Sunday celebrations on September 9th each year; "2 1b. of flour; 1/2 lb. of brown sugar; 1 lb, currants; 1 1/2 lb. of lard: 3 oz of lemon kali: one nutmeg: 2 oz. of lemon peel. Mixed with water, it was baked In the normal way. This recipe brought back to her mind some interesting recollections of Feast Week celebrations of days when, she said, there there were some real "happenings" in the form of sports, etc. Her father-in-law was the Town Crier.

We're hugely obliged to Jane Jones for this excerpt from the notebooks of her grandmother Florence 'Floss' May Bools (née Heppenstall) who was born in 1902 in Barrowby Lincolnshire:

The tale is that Grantham gingerbread arose when a baker in the 1740's mistook one ingredient for another in attempting to make Grantham Whetstones. Long associated with fairs, and commercially manufactured by several bakers, they remain virtually unknown outside their home region.
Grantham Journal - Saturday 23 December 1922
GRANTHAM GINGERBREAD.—The products of our town have the name Grantham to become known pretty well over the whole world, and amongst the manufactures that one couples with the borough, is the humble, but deservedly popular, biscuit, universally known Grantham gingerbread. Messrs. Catlin, Bros., are makers of the delicacy large scale, and Mr. L. F. Catlin has compiled little booklet which tells of its origin. Like good many more "inventions." the gingerbread was discovered by accident and not design. Says the writer; "During the old coaching days Grantham was one the stopping-places of Royal Mail coach, and while the horses were being changed at the George Hotel, passengers would stroll down the street and invariably purchase a supply of Grantham Whetstones, which were the first form biscuits ever offered for sale. Then, local tradesman, named William made accidental discovery, which was this. in bygone days business premises were always closely shuttered, and as part of Keddlestone's business was that of a baker, lit- went his shop one Sunday morning to procure the ingredients for making some little cakes for his family's consumption, but in the the semi-darkness of the shop, he mistook one ingredient for another, and it was not until the cakes were baking- that he realised his mistake. The little cakes, before being placed in the oven, were cut out with a wine glass, and should remained bar size when baked, hut instead of which they rose up and became twice the size. Anyway, he ventured to taste them. as did also the members of bis family, and were pronounced most excellent, and delicate flavour, made more, and then still more of afterwards offering them for sale in his shop under the name Grantham Gingerbread, for which found a most ready sale. This being still days the old stage, coaches, travellers bought them readily, and they soon superseded. the tasteless Whetstones, their fame spread north and south. The quick sale of these dainty biscuits soon spelt prosperity for Mr. Egglestone. who. in retirement, sold his business to another tradesman called "Merchant Briggs." who. turn, passed the recipe his two daughters, and they, turn, their nephew. R. S. Bestwick and his successors Catlin Bros. who are this the only original makers."


See: Gingerbread

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