This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Gingerbread Nuts for Ginger Lovers

Handwritten Recipe Books

These are some of my old recipe books, the oldest and most treasured ones.     Today I am sharing a recipe that I found in the large black volume, the one with the date 1840 on the spine.    It's a massive book and is filled with handwritten recipes.  There is no indication of who collected and wrote them, which is a shame.

Ginger was definitely a favourite flavour in that household.     Ginger biscuits, gingerbread and ginger cakes and wine feature frequently.     The recipe which tempted me today is one for Gingerbread Nuts.      You may be surprised at just how much ground ginger is put into the mix!

Here is the recipe exactly as it is written.

Gingerbread Nuts

Take half a lb of treacle, half a lb of pounded white sugar, qt lb of fresh butter, one oz of ground ginger, some bruised cloves or some other spice which may be preferable, some pieces of candied lemon peel and a glass of brandy.  Work a small quantity of flower into the above but not too thick.  bake them in a hot oven.
Mrs Jackson.

Perhaps I should translate it a little.

8oz treacle
8oz caster sugar
4oz butter
1oz ground ginger
1 heaped tsp ground cloves (or spice of your choice)
2oz candied peel
Glass of brandy (I used a small wineglass)
Flour - I just mixed it in until the dough felt right, approx 10oz but use your judgement.

I simply creamed the butter and sugar, added the treacle, ginger, cloves, candied peel and brandy and gave it a good stir.  Then I added the flour until the mixture was suitable for rolling and cutting.

Roll out and cut with a biscuit cutter.

Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 15 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.

The taste test:   Fabulous!   The ginger flavour comes through in the most wonderful way although I can't really detect the cloves so perhaps I should up that ingredient a little next time.

The one ingredient which I was doubtful about was the candied peel, I'm really not a fan.   How wrong I would have been to leave it out though.   It really works, the heat of the ginger is occasionally punctuated by a shot of lemon.

I will definitely be making these again and again.    Max reluctantly sampled one and ended up eating four.   He loves them!


  1. I thought it sounded like a lot of cloves but obviously not. I love ginger and hard gingernuts which are not available here. Must try the recipe. We don't get treacle either but I just use local runny honey..
    Great recipe

  2. Hello Linda, I'm sure it would work with honey but the biscuits would simply be a lighter colour and you wouldn't have that extra depth of flavour which black treacle gives. Just wait until you weigh out an ounce of ginger - I kept having to dash back into the pantry for extra to make up the weight. It really does work. My husband likes them so much that I have had to hide the biscuit tin. Those old cooks knew a thing or two!

  3. Marg would be ok wouldnt it? Gingernuts are my favourite biscuits. I must admit I dont make them I get them from Lidl. As some of the other more up market supermarkets have dairy in them and I cant have that. I would love to make these. Now I have a new stove maybe I can!!!

  4. Hello Sol, It should be fine with margarine. I've just been looking through the books at the wealth of ginger recipes; lots more to explore in the future. Enjoy getting to know your new stove and I hope you really enjoy these gingernuts!