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Sunderland gingerbread nuts recipe

A recipe from The Book of Household Management, 1861, by Isabella Beeton

Notes from cook Cathy Hammer

‘An excellent recipe’ — who could resist?

When I started to weigh these ingredients out, I realised it was in industrial quantities. I halved the amounts listed and it still used almost a whole jar each of the spices, so the next batch was a quarter of the recipe size and it made around 25 biscuits. Thank goodness for digital scales that weigh in both pounds/ounces and grams!

Here are the quantities I used:

  • 200 g treacle
  • 115 g brown sugar
  • 115 g butter 
  • 315 g flour
  • 11 g each of ginger and allspice
  • 4 g ground coriander
  • 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper

‘Let the allspice, ginger and coriander seeds be freshly ground’ — I bought fresh jars; I didn’t add the candied lemon peel, but the slightly scathing tone of the comment about cayenne pepper prompted me to try it! Having been too generous with cayenne pepper before, I was cautious and added only half a teaspoonful.

The result, after baking at 140 degrees for 25 mins, is a tray of quite good chewy dense gingery biscuits. They leave a bit of a warm glow in your mouth after eating, which I quite liked! They don’t spread out during baking so you can roll them into a ball and flatten them for a more regular shape if you prefer. I pressed mine with an eggslice to give them a decorative finish with the parallel lines.