Considered to be one of Cumbria's most popular village, Grasmere sits about halfway down the ambleside area of Lake Windemere. (The most popular of the Lakes in the Lake District.) This is due in large part to the fact that the writer William Wordsworth lived here from 1779 to 1850. It was also sometimes the home of Coleridge and Thomas de Quincy.
There is a lovely museum there where you can read their works and see photos etc. You can also visit Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy. A very worthwhile place to visit as well.
Another thing that Grasmere is famous for, and maybe even more famous for than it's Wordsworth connections is that it is the place that Grasmere Gingerbread is made! (Since the 1850's) The shop that makes it is tucked into a corner of the churchyard where Wordsworth now sleeps, and unmistakingly surrounded by the delicious smell of baking gingerbread.
The recipe, of course, is a very close held secret, but there are a few versions about, all claiming to be as good as the orignal. Jamie Oliver has a version here. (It looks very, very good too, I might add.) I also found another recipe on the BBC Good Food site, which I have adapted to American ingredients and measurements below.
In any case, this was my first opportunity to try out the Gingerbread, having come up here on some threee separate occasions now, and I can say . . . unequivically, without a doubt, it is some of the best Gingerbread I have ever eaten. Somewhere between a gingerbread cookie and a cake . . . it's quite unsual and quite, QUITE delicious! (I have not baked this recipe, but the picture on the BBC Good Food page looked very delicious and quite close to the original!)
Makes 12 slices
Adapted from a recipe on BBC Good Food.
95g shortbread biscuits (generous 1 1/2 cups)
95g oatcake biscuits (generous 1 1/2 cups)
30g soft light brown sugar (2 1/2 TBS packed)
4ml of ground ginger (about 3/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
40g mixed peel
35g crystallised Ginger (minced)(2 1/2 TBS)
40g oat flour (porrige oats put through a coffee grinder)(1/2 cup)
55g golden syrup
(In North America use a scant 4 TBS of mild molasses instead
of the syrup and treacle)
70g soft light brown sugar (Generous 1/3 cup packed)
55g butter (1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Grease a 7x11 inch baking tin. Set aside.
Put the "First Mix" ingredients into a food processor, and blend to a fairly fine crumb. Remove 40g of this, and put in a small bowl (to be used after the baking stage). Put the remainder into a large bowl.
Add the "Second Mix" ingredients to the large bowl. Mix in.
Put the "Toffee Mix" ingredients into a small pan. Slowly bring to boil while stirring. Using a thermometer, slowly heat until the boiling point reaches 119*C. (This temperature is quite critical.) Add this hot liquid mix to the large bowl, and mix in thoroughly. Pour this mix into the baking tin, and smooth down firmly. Bake near the middle of the oven for 15 minutes.
Spread the reserved mixture evenly onto the hot ginger slice, and press down gently. Leave to cool completely and then cut into slices. Enjoy!
If you'd like to read a little bit more about our holiday and see a video I took of the Cumbrian Fells, do hop on over to the Cottage to see more!