Grasmere Ginger Shortbread – A Fiery, Crumbly, Chewy Delight
Ever since I first tasted Grasmere gingerbread, I have wanted to try and find the recipe. I find its unique texture and fieriness particularly appealing. As I don’t get up to the Lake District very often, maybe once every decade, I really want to make some myself. Sadly the recipe is a closely kept secret. This version, Grasmere ginger shortbread, is the closest I’ve come to it.
The now famous Grasmere gingerbread was originally created in 1854, by local village woman Sarah Nelson. She started selling her delicacy outside her house to locals and tourists alike and its fame soon spread. Despite a life of grinding hard work and losing all of her children, Sarah founded a thriving business, no mean achievement for a woman of her day. More than 160 years later, the gingerbread is still made to her recipe in the very same house.
CT and I spent a few wonderful days near Grasmere a few years ago and somehow we just couldn’t help but walk the mile around the lake to the Grasmere Gingerbread shop and buy a pack or two to fuel us on our daily treks.
Grasmere Ginger Shortbread
Over the years, I’ve spotted recipes trying to emulate this most revered gingerbread, but I’ve never seen one that looked much like it. Flicking through a library copy of The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking by Linda Collister recently, I spotted another version, Grasmere ginger shortbread. It looked as though it was worth a try, so try it out I did.
I added quite a bit more ginger to the recipe and used fine demerara sugar instead of light muscovado. The result, whilst not quite the real deal, wasn’t too far off either and it was really very pleasing – well worth making again in fact. It had a good gingery flavour with a firm slightly sticky crumbly texture. On trying a piece, CT remarked “never mind Kendal mint cake, this will get you up a few mountains”.
I wrapped some of my Grasmere ginger shortbread up in greaseproof paper, as per the real Grasmere Gingerbread and took it as a gift to a friend I was staying with in London. The reason for my visit was the World Chocolate Forum, but more of that in a later post. I was shocked to find, my friend had never heard of Grasmere Gingerbread. She was, however, pleased with mine.
- 150 g wholemeal spelt
- 150 g plain white flour
- 50 g fine or medium oatmeal I used fine
- 1 rounded tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 125 g fine demerara sugar or light muscovado
- 125 g slightly salted butter
- 50 g crystalised ginger - chopped finely
- Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and cut in the butter.
- Rub between fingers until mixture resembles breadcrumbs, or pulse in a food processor.
Stir in the crystallised ginger.
- Press all but 4 tbsp into an 8" (20cm) sq silicone mould or lined cake tin with the back of a spoon.
- Sprinkle over the reserved mixture.
- Bake at 180℃ for about 25 minutes, when the top should be golden, but not burnt.
- Cut the shortbread into 16 fingers whilst still warm, then leave in the mould to cool.
Adapted from The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking by Linda Collister
October must be the month for ginger, because this time last year I made these ginger chocolate oaty biscuits which were rather good too.
Other ginger biscuits you might like:
- Dark chocolate dipped ginger biscuits (gluten free) – Natural Kitchen Adventures
- Ginger oat chewy creams – Casa Costello
- Ginger spice cookies – Family Friends Food
- Ginger toms – It’s Not Easy Being Greedy
- Gingernuts with custard cream filling – United Cakedom
- Grandma Monearn’s ginger shortbread – Foodie Quine
- Jane’s ginger cookies – Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
- Spicy gingerbread with limoncello icing – Tin and Thyme
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