Thursday, 29 October 2015

History Bakers - Fiery Gingerbread

To celebrate the Hull Fair and Bonfire Night season, for this month’s History Bakers, I thought it would be only fitting to make some gingerbread.

The old recipe books at the Hull History Centre contain several different recipes for gingerbread, but the winning recipe was taken from the Hotham Collection (ref. U DDHO/19/2) dating from around 1777. This particular recipe caught my eye as it was very different to the gingerbread recipes I had tried before as it contains black treacle, cream and brandy!

For such an old recipe, it was actually fairly detailed, with clear weights for each ingredient and a general method. However, I still had to estimate the oven temperature, cooking time and amount of flour, and so was particularly glad when they turned out so well!

If you would like to have a go yourself, please see the original recipe and a modernised version below.

Original recipe taken from U DDHO/19/2

Transcription: Take ½ lb of fresh butter, ½ a lb of fine sugar, 1 lb of treacle/warm the treacle in 3 or 4 spoonfuls of cream, ¼ of a pint of brandy, ¼ of an ounce of mace, 1 oz ¼ of ginger beat and sifted as much flour as will make a stiff paste – roll it in what shape you please and bake it upon tins. 

1. Pre-heat the oven to about 180C and grease over trays.
2. Take ½ lb of margarine or butter and ½ lb of caster sugar. Mix together and gently warm in a pan.
3. Add 1 lb of black treacle and warm on a low heat in four dessert spoonfuls of single cream, ¼ pint of brandy, ¼ oz of nutmeg and 1 ¼ oz of powdered ginger. 
4. Whisk, continuing over a low heat.
5. Once thoroughly mixed together, remove from heat and sift in as much flour as will make a stiff dough.
6. Roll out (to no more than 1cm thickness) and cut in whatever shape you would like.
7. Place in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your gingerbread. 

Gingerbread comes in all shapes and sizes!

Please see my colleagues’ comments below (we’re all becoming quite the food critics!):

Claire Fiery and lovely, taste of bonfire night!
Laura Cute gingerbread men, lovely strong treacle flavour, yum!
Mrs West         Delicious – How real gingerbread should taste...not too sweet!
Martin Very gingery! Full of flavour.
Carol                Not too much ginger for me – lovely.
Nick         The black treacle is very noticeable, strong flavour!
Elspeth Very enjoyable tangy taste of treacle. Not as sweet as bought gingerbread men today!
Elaine A strong taste of ginger. Really good!
Christine         A lovely mild gingerbread, and not too sweet
Pete         Very good gingery and full of flavour
Mike                 Fiery and fun, Perfect for Hull Fair week!

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