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Oldfashioned Ginger Bread Recipe

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Oldfashioned Ginger Bread Recipe

As you might know a couple of years ago I started to bake Victorian Scotch Cake for the local tea room at Down House. The recipe is taken from Emma Darwin's Recipe Book and it's been a huge hit with all visiting the home of Charles Darwin.

I always make Gingerbread before Christmas - based on a medieval recipe with honey and spices, so I was really excited to find a traditional Gingerbread recipe in Emma Darwin's book.

I have made several batches - first following the modern version (tested and tried by the publishers/authors) and then the original Victorian script. I was quite disappointed with the first batch - it was very sweet and tasted more like a liquorice than gingerbread. Then I realised that the publishers/ food historians had adapted the recipe to their (American!) taste.

So, I followed Emma's original recipe more closely and the the result (surprise, surprise...) was much better. I served the Gingerbread at my baking workshops and everyone really enjoyed it, so I've decided to share the recipe here:

Traditional Gingerbread  - by Emma Darwin

450g plain flour

15 g ground ginger ( I used mixed spice instead and found the flavour much nicer)

1 teaspoon baking soda

110g butter ( I prefer unsalted butter)

210g brown sugar (if you have just caster sugar, that's fine, but the flavour won't be as rich)

255 ml dark molasses

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten (because I changed the proportions of molasses to sugar, the mixture was quite difficult to mix together and I ended up adding another large egg)

Line a 20cm square baking tin with parchment paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, ground ginger)

Melt the butter, brown sugar and molasses together in a small saucepan - over a low heat. Add lemon extract. 

Make a well in the flour and add the mixture from the saucepan. Mix together thoroughly. Add the beaten eggs and mix well.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes (on 175C). Test with a wooden skewer - if it comes out clean - the cake is done. If not bake for a few minutes more. Leave to cool in the tin for a bit and then (when you can touch the tin with your hands) take it out on a cooling wire rack. 

This traditional gingerbread recipe keeps really well - ours was fine for about a week stored in a bread tin. If I make more than what we can eat I freeze it on the same day and use it within month or so.

This recipe will be firmly on our list of bakes for Christmas and I'd love to know how you get on with yours.

And just in case you can't follow my baking instructions, I shall leave you with Emma Darwins' own handwritten instructions for this cake:

'Melt the butter & treacle together & mix with the other things'

Happy Baking!



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