Here’s a zingy, zesty, candy-like, and totally unique gingerbread with an interesting history. It dates back to the mid 1800’s and a country baker named Sarah Nelson who sold her famous gingerbread out of a quaint stone cottage to Victorian tourists visiting England’s Lake District . If you’re lucky enough to be roaming the English countryside in those parts, you’ll find the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop still going strong after more than 150 years and offering up freshly made confections made from Sarah’s original recipes.
One of my faves, Jamie Oliver, loves Grasmere gingerbread and since he was not able to get ahold of the top secret recipe (it’s locked in the National Westminster Bank in Ambleside), he created his own version which he says is almost as good and “some of the best gingerbread you’ll ever eat”…. if that’s not enough of a recommendation to try this recipe yourself, I don’t know what is!
This one’s really, really simple making it the ideal kind of project to do with kids, perhaps some laid back Saturday morning when you need something to keep little hands busy. I bet a lot of young bakers could tackle pretty much the whole recipe with just a little bit of adult supervision.
Jaime Oliver’s Ultimate Gingerbread
Find Jamie’s original recipe here. I did a bunch of conversions and scaled everything in half for this adapted version. I made mine in a 14″ rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, but you could use an 8′ x 8″ baking pan lined with parchment paper, or even press the gingerbread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper if you don’t mind freeform edges (the gingerbread will cover about a quarter of a cookie sheet/half sheet pan).
- 10.5 ounces of store bought shortbread (If you’re using Walker’s shortbread that comes in 5.3 ounce packages, you’ll need 2)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons of powdered ginger (1 1/2 teaspoons for step 1, 3/4 teaspoons for step 2)
- zest of half a lemon (I used in place of the candied citrus peel he calls for)
- 2-3 tablespoons of crystalized ginger, minced
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- tiny pinch baking powder
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup (or substitute dark or light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350F
- Blitz the all of the shortbread and brown sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger powder in your food processor to form coarse crumbs. Hold aside 1/2 cup of crumbs for the topping, leaving the remainder in the food processor.
- To the food processor, add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of ginger powder, lemon zest, minced crystalized ginger, flour and baking powder. Blitz again to combine well.
- On the stove melt the butter, corn syrup and molasses in a sauce pan. When the butter is melted, add the crumb/flour mixture from the food processor. Stir to combine well.
- Press the mixture into your baking pan until you have a thin, flat layer. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
- Press the reserved crumbs onto the gingerbread while it is still warm. If using a pan with a removable bottom, lift out the gingerbread and pan bottom. If using another type of pan lined with parchment, hold the edges of the parchment paper and gently lift gingerbread out of the pan. Slice while still warm and enjoy