There are so many different types of gingerbread, from biscuits to cakes to hybrids of the two. This 1914 recipe for Sledmere Gingerbread features in The Countess of Dudley's A Second Dudley Book of Recipes' and makes a lovely, soft ginger cake that is, according to the Countess, "an excellent recipe for children". And she'd know - in the year this recipe was published, she had 6 children of her own and 13 grandchildren!
From its' name, we must assume that it is a recipe local to the village of Sledmere in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which neither of us have visited before as we live quite some distance away but after a bit of Googling found out to be a picturesque village of beautiful red brick cottages with little garden gates painted bright red and traditional shops surrounded by fields and parkland. You can just imagine walking down the lane and being greeted with the warming scent of gingerbread baking away in someone's kitchen.
Coming back to our recipe, we've made this one twice now with one variation. The first time (unfilmed) we used treacle and the second (filmed), we used golden syrup. This wasn't a mistake... well, not our own, anyway. You see, the Countess says to use golden syrup in the ingredients list... but later on, says "add the treacle". We reckon that she really meant to say golden syrup throughout, after all, you're more likely to write the correct ingredient in the ingredients list than when you get carried away with writing the method... right? Well, whether you use treacle or syrup, you'll end up with a gorgeous ginger cake. Golden syrup gives you more rise and a generally lighter cake, and using treacle gives you a denser, stickier cake with less rise.
You can enjoy this gingerbread cold with a cuppa, or heated up.
Original Recipe: 'Sledmere Gingerbread' (Book 3, 1914)
Speed: 1 hour 30 mins | Serves: 16
227g caster sugar
227g golden syrup (or treacle)
454g plain flour
14g ground ginger
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and melt together over a low heat, mixing slowly until fully combined.
2. Beat up the eggs in a bowl and then stir the butter mixture in.
3. Sift the flour, ginger and soda into a large bowl and pour in the egg mixture, stirring together until fully combined. It'll become quite a stiff cake batter.
4. Pour the mixture into a deep traybake pan, buttered and lined with baking paper, even out the top and then bake for 30 - 45 minutes at 180°C fan (350°F/Gas Mark 4) until "golden brown" or cooked all the way through.
Note: Keep an eye on the baking! We had no trouble the first time we made it with the treacle (40 mins baking at 180 C), but the second time 'round when we made it with the treacle, it took the full 45 mins to cook through and the base & sides did go a little dark despite rotating the pan and covering the top, etc. Might be best to reduce the oven temperature to about 160 C after 30 mins for the remainder of the baking time and leaving it in slightly longer. Let us know how you got on!
5. When cold, cut into rectangles or squares.
"This is an excellent recipe for children".
Original Recipe for 'Sledmere Gingerbread'
'BOOK 3': A Second Dudley Book of Recipes (1914)
Collected and Arranged By: Georgina Ward, Countess of Dudley
Publisher: Hutchinson & Co. (Paternoster Row, London, England, U.K.)