Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Georgian Gingerbread takes the biscuit

This year marks 300 years following the birth of James Paine, architect of The Mansion House Doncaster. A number of events are being held to commemorate this occasion and it was a great delight to be able to try out some Georgian/Regency baking recipes at an event earlier this month.

I adapted a recipe from the 1826 The Cook and Housewife’s Manual: A practical System of Modern Domestic Cookery and Family Management by Mistress Margaret Dods.

Two pounds of flour, a half pound of brown sugar, a half pound of orange peel cut into bits, an ounce of ground ginger, half an ounce of caraway seeds, cloves, mace, and some allspice. Mix with these a pound and a half of treacle, and a half pound of melted butter. Mix the ingredients well together, and let them stand for some hours before rolling out the cakes. The paste will require a little additional flour in rolling out. Cut the cakes, mark, the top in diamonds with a knife, and bake them on tin plates.

Georgian Gingerbread proved popular with visitors today as well as in the Georgian era. Here’s my version for a modern oven:
175g/6oz black treacle or molasses
50g/20z butter
50g/2oz light brown sugar
250g/9oz plain flour
50g/2oz orange peel/mixed peel
1-2 teaspoonsful ground ginger
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice

Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan oven. Warm the sugar, butter and black treacle/molasses in a pan until melted. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the sugar/butter/molasses mix. Mix well, then leave in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1 cm, then cut into diamond shapes. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes.

The black treacle made for a more intense flavour and a heavier texture than the lighter Gingerbread we are more used to nowadays. What's your take on Georgian era baking? 

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