Aunty Betty’s gingerbread


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For

    16 squares

Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

This family recipe ended up in my hands in a special way. I was on the train to London when Joanne came up to me to say that she loved my first book, Pride and Pudding, and that she wanted to send me her family recipe for gingerbread.

Joanne told me that she came from Cumbria in the north of England, where Grasmere gingerbread also originates, and where, historically, a lot of gingerbread is made. In our later conversations she told me that in the 1980s the recipe was mainly made with margarine because butter was too expensive. Butter was only used for cakes for special occasions, such as Christmas cake and Shortbread. When Joanne was a little girl, her mother won prizes with this gingerbread in baking competitions at their local village fair. The family recipe is from Joanne’s great aunt, Betty, and it’s a privilege to be able to share it with you.


  • 340 g (11¾ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter
  • 225 g (8 oz) white sugar
  • 225 g (8 oz) black treacle
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • butter, for greasing
  • flour, for dusting


For a 20 cm (8 inch) square cake tin

Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F) and prepare the cake tin.

Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt in a large bowl and mix well.

Melt the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup together in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool a little while you mix the milk and eggs with the dry ingredients.

Add the butter mixture to the batter and mix until well combined. Spoon the batter into the cake tin.

Bake the gingerbread in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes. Leave it in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the gingerbread from the tin using the baking paper and cut it into squares.

You can eat the gingerbread immediately, but it actually gets better and stickier after a day, and even better after a week. Pack it in an airtight container and hide it away until a week has passed.