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Grasmere Gingerbread


Semi-hard flapjack-like slabs about ¼ins thick and 3ins square, each marked into 4 sections and dusted with oatmeal.

Made to an undisclosed receipt possibly based on oatmeal with dark sugar, ginger and citrus flavours at Sarah Nelson's bakery in the old schoolhouse in Grasmere since 1854. While many speciality bakehouses claim to be 'original', Sarah Nelson's is one of the very, very, few which are truthfully are. See

In the 19th century Grasmere gingerbread was used to pay those who brought rushes to cover the earth floor of the Grasmere church. The floor is paved now and needs no rushes, but they are still brought, and the gingerbread eaten, on special occasions such as the feast of St. Oswald on August 5th. A similar tradition is known from Stalmine, see Tosset Cakes and with Goosnargh Cakes

Original Receipt from 'Birmingham Mail' - Friday 03 February 1939

GRASMERE GINGERBREAD Sieve together into a bowl of half a pound of flour, one teaspoonful of ground ginger, a quarter of a teaspoonful of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Then add three ounces of sugar, the grated rind of half a lemon, and a few drops of vanilla essence. Make a well in the centre and stir in four ounces of melted butter, one dessertspoonful syrup and two yolks of eggs. Mix all into a stiff paste and then roll out half of the mixture. Brush this with egg or milk and sprinkle chopped preserved ginger or candied peel. Roll out the other half of the mixture the same size and place on top. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake slowly for half an hour.

Original Receipt from;

Grasmere Gingerbread
    Plain flour - 225g (8oz)
    Bicarbonate of soda -½ tsp
    Cream of tartar -½ tsp
    Ground ginger - 2 tsp
    Butter - 175g (6oz), diced
    Soft light brown sugar - 175 g (6oz)
    Golden syrup - 1 level tbsp
    Granulated sugar - for sprinkling
1. Pre-heat oven to 170C / 325F / Gas 3. Butter a 20 cm (8 inch) sandwich tin.
2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and ground ginger in a bowl. Add butter and rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the brown sugar. Carefully add the golden syrup and lightly stir into the mixture with a knife.
3. Spread the mixture in the tin, level and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.
4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Cut into 12 wedges and remove from the tin. Place on a wire rack and leave until cold. Store in an airtight tin until required.

See: Gingerbread

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