Grasmere gingerbread

29 Aug

Grasmere gingerbread

Grasmere gingerbread is something I make when supplies are running low. It has only five store-cupboard ingredients – and doesn’t even call for an egg. I came across the recipe in the Observer newspaper years ago, and remember they included two versions – one simple, the other slightly fussier. (I’ve since discovered the original recipes are from Jane Grigson’s English Food).

I tried the simple one first, and decided after only one bite that it was plenty good enough for me. The recipe is so easy, it sounds like the crust one might make for a cheesecake or square. But there’s definitely more going on here. The crumb is exceptional, with an initial give before you encounter a chewy resistance in the middle.

Over the years, I’ve mucked around with it a bit, adding dried fruit, spices, chopped candied ginger and so on, but have learned not to bother. Having tried adding various quantities of oatmeal, I now stick to a flour-only version.

In 2008, the owners of Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread Shop successfully registered Grasmere gingerbread as a trademark. Sarah Nelson began selling Grasmere gingerbread in 1854, but a rival baker contended that others were making it long before she set up shop. (Dora Wordsworth mentions it in her journals, which date from the early 1800s.)

So perhaps I should be calling this entry “Grasmere-ish gingerbread” or “Grasmere gingerbread®”?

Grasmere gingerbread
(makes 15 pieces)

  • 250g plain flour (or 250g fine oatmeal, or a mixture of the two)
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g salted butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Line a 9″x9″ square pan with baking parchment and set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, brown sugar, ginger and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. Pour in the melted butter and stir well to combine. The mixture will be quite dry and crumbly.
  5. Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press down evenly.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Cut into oblongs in the pan while still warm.

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