Mrs Beeton’s Thick Gingerbread

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I had the pleasure of having my parents come up for a visit for Mother’s day.  It was a wonderfully relaxed catchup filled with good wine, good food and great conversation.  It wouldn’t be a visit without us spending some time in the kitchen together and it was a great opportunity to chat about The Cookbook Guru and this month’s book, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Good Housekeeping (also known as Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery).    Mum brought up her 1907 version that had been inherited from her Grandma and we compared it to the 1963 version that I have on loan at the moment.  They are hardly the same book but it is very interesting to see how the book has evolved and the intent and spirit is still true with each version giving advice that is relevant to the era about good housekeeping and creating meals in the home.

I chose to create this recipe as my first thing from this book as it is very reminiscent of the Gingerbread Cake that Great Grandma used to make for Mum and we were curious to test the recipe and see if it was where she had gotten her recipe from.  We think its pretty similar in flavour, but there is some differences.  The texture of these loaves was much lighter and the treacle more dominant to create an almost aniseed like flavour.  I also found it much drier and over time is has not softened up like Great Grandma’s did.   This is a  delicious savoury style cake for those of us that might not want something uber sweet but still like a bite of cake.

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Mrs Beeton’s Thick Gingerbread

* from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Everyday Cookery 1907

  • 500g treacle
  • 750g plain flour
  • 30g ground ginger
  • 30g allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 150ml milk (soy or almond milk will work here)
  • 100g butter
  • brown sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pre-heat your oven to 180c and prepare 2 loaf tins by greasing lightly and lining with baking paper.
Combine the flour, sugar and spices in a large bowl until well mixed.

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In a saucepan combine the treacle, butter and milk and heat over a medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture well combined.  Whilst hot, add the bicarbonate of soda and stir until it bubbles up. Pour the liquid into the flour and mix until well combined.4

Pour the batter into the tins, splitting it evenly. Place them into the middle of the oven and bake for approx 45mins – 1 hour. The gingerbread will be ready when you can stick it with a skewer and it comes away clean.

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Cool on a rack and it is ready to eat. You can also choose to serve this with a smear of butter. This cake will keep, wrapped in foil, up to 2 weeks in a cool, dry location and will only get better with age.

Happy Baking and Happy Eating,
Leah

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. ladyredspecs says:

    It’s disappointing that the gingerbread was dry because the flavour was wonderful. Perhaps it really was intended to be bread rather than cake. A thickly buttered slice with the coffee I’m drinking would go down a treat xxxx

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    1. Leah says:

      I am a little dissappointed but you may be right. I should try toasting it and see how that alters the flavour. Grandma’s was definately better for what I like in texture 🙂 xxx

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  2. Leah says:

    Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:

    Recently I created another version of my Great Grandma’s Gingerbread, this time using Mrs Beeton’s recipe. It was a hunt to see if it was the source of her original inspiration. Read all about my experience here.
    Enjoy, Leah

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  3. Sounds like you were right – it looks more like a bread than a cake. Might it be good toasted, with lots of melted butter? If your great grandmother was from Yorkshire originially, perhaps her gingerbread was more of a Parkin than Mrs. Beeton’s gingerbread. Lots of moist, gooey treacle in Parkin.

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    1. Leah says:

      yum to your comment. I agree about the toast and butter although I’m yet to try it. Great Grandma’s is definately more sticky and cake like although don’t think she’s from York…not 100% on the family heritage but I think she was London born and grew up in Australia from about 10 years old. 🙂

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      1. Check with your Mum. I think she said in one of her comments that she had a grandmother who came from Yorkshire. But, perhaps we’re talking about the second grandmother. We all get two!

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  4. Glenda says:

    Well it sure looks good Leah. I wonder whether the fact that our ovens are fan forced dried out your cake a bit. In the olden days they didn’t have fan forced ovens.

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    1. Leah says:

      Thank you. You might be right, I may have slightly overcooked it too, but I’m glad I gave it a try. 🙂

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  5. Gingerbread is a great treat for those of us who don’t want our desserts to be too sweet. The health benefits of the spices are nice, too.

    Moms and daughters getting together to compare recipes and cook warms my heart. I want to do this when my daughter lives on her own. We’ve always cooked together.

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    1. Leah says:

      Thank you Gina. Being in the kitchen is certainly something that my Mum and I love to share. We actually have worked together in kitchens too and its great to share idea’s and techniques with each other.

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      1. When my daughter has lived away from me, we talked recipes and technique in new ways because she gained experiences on her own.

        There are all kinds of kitchen adventures ahead for all of us.

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  6. Francesca says:

    My Nanny made this too. Food has the power to invoke such strong memories. I am really enjoying reading the original version of Mrs Beeton on line. Haven’t made anything yet as life has become too busy here, preparing the gardens and getting ready for ‘the big escape’. I am sending you an interesting link- http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jun/02/guardianhayfestival2006.books
    which I may include in my Beeton blog as a little historical note.

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    1. Leah says:

      Thank you Francesca. Completely understand you not having much time to contribute. I’ve been loving your updates on your travels in NZ. Such a beautiful part of the world and your holiday sounds like it was a wonderful foodie adventure. I’ll check out the link now. 🙂

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  7. thehungrymum says:

    Look at that lush treacle. Will keep an eye out for it – don’t know that I’ve seen it before.

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    1. Leah says:

      Thank you. Not sure where you’re based but treacle is English in origin so anywhere that stocks similar styles of food might have it 🙂

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      1. thehungrymum says:

        I’m in sydney so I’m a big golden syrup gal, am sure one of the big supermarkets here will have treacle.

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      2. Leah says:

        Of for sure. I buy mine at woollies, it’s with sugar section 🙂

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  8. Hi Leah. This recipe looks great. Only one question – how much brown sugar is needed as the recipe only reads brown sugar without giving an amount. Many thanks. Michael.

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    1. Leah says:

      Hi Michael, thank you for letting me know I’d missed it, my sincere apologies. The quantity is 115g or 1/4 pound of brown sugar according to the original book. I hope you like the end result. Leah

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