Gingerbread Grasmere Style
Similar to the closely guarded secret recipe for the world-famous Grasmere gingerbread: this recipe appeared in Cumbria Magazine in November 2018

This is adapted from an original recipe that came, many years ago from the village of Sawrey between Hawkshead and Windermere, although whether Near or Far Sawrey isn’t clear.

It was suggested as ‘an alternative to the secret recipe of Grasmere’. Whilst not exactly the same as the famous brand; it’s delicious, and made in the traditional Grasmere biscuit-y rather than cake-y style with a lovely hint of citrus.

The poet Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, who lived near Grasmere from 1799-1801 were fond of gingerbread. Once, according to Dorothy’s journal: ‘William had a fancy for gingerbread’; and they walked from their cottage, rather late in the day, into Grasmere to buy some.

There were 2 main types on sale in those days: Wordsworth was hoping for hard but only soft was left by the time they got there. He bought it anyway: here’ a ‘hard’ one he might have liked.

Makes 16 squares

  • 110g (4oz) salted butter, softened
  • 110g (4oz) dark brown sugar
  • 1tablespoon golden syrup
  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 level teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons mixed peel
  • 25g candied ginger, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 140C (fan oven) gas mark 3 or equivalent

You will need a 20cm (8 inch) square brownie pan or similar, buttered and the bottom lined with greaseproof paper

A food processor works brilliantly: but use a wooden spoon and hands if you prefer.

Whiz butter and sugar together in processor until creamed and fluffy. Add golden syrup and whiz to combine.

Sieve in flour, raising agents and spices. Whiz briefly, add peel and candied ginger and whiz until mixture starts to form large clumps.

Press mixture gently into tin. Smooth top level with a damp metal spoon, taking time to get surface even.

Bake for 30 minutes until slightly pulling away from sides of pan.

Cool in tin, turn out and mark into squares.

Once completely cold store in an airtight container.


Golden syrup and raising agents would be unknown to the Wordsworths as they weren’t available until the mid and late 1800s.