TSLL’s Adaptation of Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread
Tuesday December 12, 2023

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To visit the Lake District in NW England, if you are someone like me who both adores being out in Mother Nature and especially the rain as well as has a fondest for the person who made all of that beautiful land of 16 lakes and oodles of tarns, more than 4000 acres of land largely free from development, Beatrix Potter, is to experience a dream come true.

And so it was that the dream came true this past October when I had the opportunity to venture to the Lake District and begin a guided hiking tour in Grasmere, the small village town where William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy called home for nearly their entire life (view my Travel Diary posts here for oodles of pictures and my itinerary over the 12 day visit to the countryside and London).

On the day of my walk about the lakes and hills and villages, Mother Nature decided to give me more rain than I have ever seen in my entire life (if that sounds hyperbolic, aside from being in a hurricane or typhoon situation, be sure to read and watch this video post and this post). But as I said, I do love rain, a self-professed pluviophile, I was drenched within about 30 minutes to an hour for reasons you will see in the video posts, but that didn’t dampen my utter delight to be where I was – seeing the Lake District and its magnificent natural beauty with my own eyes.

But like I said, I was drenched, and so after our first hike around one end of Grasmere Lake, we made our way back down to the town of Grasmere and my guide took me directly to Sarah Nelson‘s little (and I do mean little as only two people, maybe, can stand in the small room where you place your order) cottage where you can purchase the well-known and much loved Grasmere Gingerbread (I highly recommend visiting their website and you can even order from them as well). For fewer than £10 you receive a package of three large (have a look at the pic below) gingerbread square cookies that each can be broken in half, so really you are getting six cookies/biscuits. And they are warm out of the oven, and best to be enjoyed tout de suite. However, as you will notice, they are large, so you really are not likely to eat them all in one sitting unless you are sharing, so do not worry. I enjoyed my second package (my guide and I enjoyed the first during our break in between hikes and then I finished the remaining cookies on my 90 minute drive home back to County Durham where I was staying) one cookie at a time (sometimes two – of the small narrow size) each afternoon with my tea, and they were scrumptious. You can reheat them back up in the microwave if you really want to, but you can also dunk them in your tea or coffee – delectable. ☺️


The original packaging (seen above and below) as captured during my trip. This is one of two that my guide purchased for me. It was so wet, by the time the paper of the other one had been opened and we were eating the gingerbread, the paper basically dissolved. Somehow this one remained in tact as it was tucked away in a backpack, and I didn’t begin to enjoy it until I arrived home and for the duration of my stay at Rita Konig’s North Farm.

Img 1665


Now to the recipe and I must begin by sending a tremendous Thank You to long-time reader and member of TSLL Sue who lives in the UK, and when she learned about my trip to the Lake District and how I enjoyed the gingerbread, she found and sent a recipe my way that was included in this cookbook, Oats In The North Wheat From The South by Regula Ysewijn. Later that same day, I gave the recipe a try and you know what, it was pretty close to what I remembered when I enjoyed the actual Grasmere Gingerbread. However, because the memory was clear in my mind and to my tastebuds, I knew the ginger wasn’t strong enough. Yes, the recipe shared was very good, and you will want to eat many of them as it is a delicious biscuit of butter and brown sugar, but I wanted to amp up the ginger profile.

So I made the recipe more than a few times in the past couple of weeks, each turned out well, but it wasn’t until I added molasses and a smidge of mace along with candied ginger that I finally began to taste a resemblance to what I enjoyed in the Lake District on that soggy rain, memory-filled day. (I wish I would have been able to take a photo of Sarah Nelson’s cottage where the gingerbread was made, but my phone would not open up as my fingers and nose were too wet for it to register that it was indeed me – I swipe up with my nose sometimes when I have gloves on 🙃).

And so after these many adaptations, I am very happy with what I am sharing with you today. It is important to know that the best ginger to use is not the fresh ginger, although you can add that, but if you don’t have fresh ginger, don’t fret. Use the ginger, nutmeg and mace spice, use the candied ginger and let the molasses do the heavy lifting as well. It will taste amazing.

The longer you bake past golden brown, the stiffer the cookies will be, understandably; however, I share this because eventually all of the cookies will become stiff, but it is during that first hour or two when the cookies are still soft that makes for some delicious first bites, and if you are looking for a festive holiday cookie you cannot stop eating, this is it. I dare you to have just one cookie, even two! It’s near impossible to stop which is why I made a batch and while I did save one gingerbread square for myself, I quickly packaged up the remaining cookies and gave as gifts to my neighbors and family and friends. ☺️

I do hope you enjoy, and rest assured, when I go back to the Lake District to walk on a sunny day, I cannot wait to return to Sarah Nelson’s cottage for my sustenance of Grasmere Gingerbread. So good!

Happy holidays!


Sarah Nelson, Grasmere-inspired Gingerbread

Simply LuxuriousSimply Luxurious
Inspired by Sarah Nelson's Grasmere gingerbread recipe I enjoyed while taking a walking tour around Grasmere Lake in the Lake District (England), I have adapted the recipe from Regula Ysewijn's recipe found in her cookbook Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The History of British Baking: Savoury and Sweet.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 single pieces


  • 225 g (8 oz) Pastry Flour (all purpose flour will work as well)
  • 115 g (4 oz) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel
  • 115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled


  • You will want a square (8"x8") or a rectangular cake pan (4" x 16").
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F), 180 degrees (C).
  • Prepare the cake pan. Using a stick of butter, grease the bottom and the sides and especially the corners of the pan. Then place parchment paper into the pan. You may just put it in the bottom, but you can also cut out a larger piece of parchment and let it run up all of the sides. The butter you have applied will hold the parchment while you press the cookie dough in later.
  • In a food processor, add all of the dry ingredients including all of the ginger (each type – if you don't have all of them, just adjust with the others that you have). Add the molasses as well. Pulse until combined.
  • Then roughly chop up the chilled butter, and add that to the food processor and pulse until a loose consistent crumb is created. It won't stick together like a pastry and that is okay. You want it to be a a loose crumb. When you piece a bit between your fingers it will stick together and that is all you need.
  • Reserve 70 grams of the cookie dough and set aside. Pour the remaninder of the cookie dough (which will not be sticking together – it will be loose and not like a pastry), into the prepared cake pan. Using a pastry scraper, press to dough into the pan, creating an even and flat top. Then sprinkle on the 70 grams you set aside, so it is loosely on top similar to a crumble topping.
  • Before putting the pan into the oven (you can also do this immediately after it comes out of the oven while it is still hot, but be sure not to touch the cake pan as it will be hot), using the pastry scraper, make a slight indent/score to divide the pan into fourths (see photos at the bottom of recipe to observe the indents made after it came out of the oven), and then into eights so that after it is baked, it will be easier to separate and break into its large and small pieces.
  • Bake until golden brown for 20 minutes (approximately). Until lightly golden brown.
  • The gingerbread is wonderful warm right out of the oven. With each following day, it will become slightly less tender, but then it becomes wonderful for dunking into your tea or coffee. You can also reheat it back up ever so slightly by putting it in the microwave as this soften it somewhat.
  • Cutcloseupgingerbread

~Explore all of TSLL’s Recipes here and The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show episodes here.

Triple Ginger Cake with Orange Drizzle, episode #9, season 4, Holiday Episode

21 thoughts on “TSLL’s Adaptation of Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread

  1. Hi Shannon, I made the recipe you posted not to long ago and really enjoyed it. I am planning on making more to add to my assorted cookie trays for neighbors. Adding the molasses sounds perfect.
    Thank you. Nancy
    Enjoy this beautiful season.

  2. Hello Shannon, I will definitely try this recipe (when my new oven is installed) your adaptation sounds amazing, can’t wait to try it. Ginger and cinnamon are my favourites for winter comfort. Very best wishes for the season, Sue, UK.

  3. To my fellow readers…try this recipe! It’s amazingly good! She’s not kidding about it being hard to just have one cookie, especially if you have it with black tea. This may be the best TSLL recipe ever!

  4. I can’t wait to try this tweaked version of Grasmere Gingerbread! Thank you Shannon and Sue for this recipe as well as the adaptation. I will be enjoying these biscuits with a cuppa poured from my Brown Betty, and I will daydream of the Lake District and imagine the times that Beatrix enjoyed it too! Xo

  5. Oh, I love gingerbread! It’s the one baked good I still make at Christmas & we eat an unseemly amount of it 🙂 Two hints from my (very English) grandmother’s recipe: use blackstrap molasses (the darker the better), not the milder “fancy” molasses, for the deepest flavour, & make sure your ground spices (I use ginger, nutmeg & allspice with a pinch of mace) are as fresh as possible. I’m going to be adding your recipe as written to my repertoire & look forward to it. And yes, there are few things better to go with a cuppa strong black tea. My mouth’s watering just thinking about it . . .

  6. Oh my, just when I think the cookie collection has been completed for the season, a new gingerbread, my favorite, comes along! I have all I need in my pantry except for the candied ginger. I will make a stop tomorrow for sure. I like the idea of blackstrap molasses as well. Thanks for sharing this, sounds really good….rain or no rain!

  7. Thanks so much for this recipe! I just wanted to say that for those of you that need to be gluten free, I made this recipe this afternoon, substituting an equal weight of King Arthur cup for cup gluten free flour for the pastry flour called for. I am at the farm right now (and not close to a store) and had everything I needed except for the mace so I substituted cardamom instead. (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp of the ground ginger. ) Baked the same amount of time. It is really lovely. Thank you so very much for sharing this special recipe.

  8. Just double checking before I dive into makes these for the holidays. I am assuming the ginger is a dried spice and not the fresh minced. Thanks for the clarity.

    1. You can do either or both! It is the candied that is a game changer. I would make sure if you have to choose, choose the ground spice. As I shared in the post, I didn’t find the fresh minced/grated ginger to bring as much flavor. I do hope you enjoy and appreciate the question. ☺️🎄 Happy and delicious holidays to you and your loved ones!

  9. Shannon, I have had a go at these and loved the flavour even though I didn’t have quite enough candied ginger. I used black treacle which I think is similar to molasses. My tip is to dunk in your tea if they have crisped up. Definitely want to make them again as I served them fresh from the oven with honeycomb ice cream. Yummy.

    1. Paired with honeycomb ice cream! Yum! What a great idea (that you for sharing ☺️), and thank you for sharing what you substituted for molasses. I have not used treacle, but I know you are an avid and skilled baker, so sharing this idea will definitely help other bakers who stop by. So tickled you enjoyed them and yep, dunking is ideal!

  10. Shannon~

    Your adaption of this recipe is fabulous and made a great hostess gift. I will definitely be making another batch to share.


  11. Thank you for this adapted recipe Shannon and to Sue for locating the original, providing the opportunity to do so!
    I think I shall be baking these myself over the Between the Years time 🙂 Nicola’s suggestion of treacle instead of molasses (perhaps less readily available here in UK) is a great idea too as I have a tin in the cupboard !
    Your trip to the Lakes and visit to Grasmere has me itching to get back there myself soon.
    Have a lovely build up to Christmas this weekend.

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