Grassmere / Lake District style gingerbread

A work colleague brought in some Grassmere gingerbread from a trip to the Lake District recently and I’ve had some before when visiting the lakes. I’d forgotten how lovely it was and, as I’m not that likely to get back to Cumbria as often as I’d like, I resolved to ‘reverse engineer’ this gorgeous treat so I could contine to have it. I’ve not managed to match it perfectly, but after much experimentation this is a fairly close version (from what I can remember – I’d eaten what was left of the original by then!) and, anyway, it’s gone down well with everyone who’s tried it.

grassmere style gingerbread

If you search for gingerbread recipes, you’ll get a bewildering array of answers. It seems they roughly fall in to one of three main types – the sponge sort (really a ginger cake or pain d’epices), a traditional plain biscuit sort (like that used in gingerbread houses or lebkuchen) and a type which is half shortbread half gingerbread, which is what this recipe is. There are tons of recipes out there for all these types and I dare say there are other incarnations of gingerbread I’ve not even come across.


I have seen some recipes that also try to recreate Grassmere gingerbread but they all just state using shop bought shortbread. After tweaking this recipe a few times I’ve found that the recipe for the shortbread itself makes quite a lot of difference to the finished gingerbread, so if you’re going to try this I’d urge you to do both halves of the recipe – the shortbread and the gingerbread bake. If you can’t be bothered to make the shortbread you can substitute shop bought – it’ll still be lovely but it won’t be close to the original Grassmere.

  • small saucepan
  • baking tray with parchment/baking paper/silicon mat
  • blender
  • bowl
Ingredients for the shortbread base recipe
  • 165g butter, slightly softened/at room temp
  • 225g plain flour
  • 45g ground almonds
  • 100g caster sugar
  • drop of vanilla essence
Method for the shortbread
  • Put the oven on to 160C fan/170C conventional
  • Mix all together so that it forms a ball – do not overwork with your hands
  • Roll out to the thickness of about 10mm (4/8 of an inch)
  • There is no need to cut any shapes out – you can bake it as one slab as you will be crushing it once it has been cooked
  • Bake for about 20 mins on a lined baking tray – you want to remove from the oven when the edges to just start going golden
  • Leave to cool
Ingredients for the gingerbread
  • The cooled shortbread made from the recipe above or around 400g of shop bought shortbread
  • 25g flaked almonds
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 30g treacle
  • 60g butter
  • 55g crystallised ginger chopped finely
  • 40g demerera sugar
  • 1 and a half tspn ground ginger
  • zest of a small lemon
  1. The oven should still be at 160C/170C
  2. Put the shortbread and almonds in a blender and whizz up finely
  3. Put aside a little more than a quarter of the shortbread/almonds – you need to reserve this to go on top later
  4. Melt the golden syrup, treacle, sugar and butter in the saucepan over a low heat – you want it all melted but don’t let it boil
  5. Pour this into the mixing bowl and leave to cool for a couple of minutes (pouring it into the bowl will help it cool quicker rather than leaving it in the saucepan)
  6. Once the unctuous syrupy mix is body temp, tip in the shortbread crumbs (apart from the portion you put aside earlier)
  7. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together until it forms a clump
  8. Put the mix on the lined baking tray and press down with your fingers/the back of a spoon/a cranked spatula until it is about 5-6mm thick (about 3/8 of an inch). It’s very pliable and you’ll be able to straighten the edges
  9. Get the rest of the shortbread crumbs and scatter them over the top of the gingerbread and press them down with your fingertips into the biscuit
  10. Bake for about 10 mins (remember the shortbread is already cooked so it only needs a little)
  11. Leave to cool for a minute or two and then cut into squares. Leave to cool fully
  12. The gingerbread is actually at its best a day or two later

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