If you were asked to describe gingerbread how would you answer? I personally think of it as being a dark, treacly, sticky sponge cake, dense yet light and bouncy at the same time.
Well it turns out I’m wrong and I’m blaming Mcvities.
Because it turns out traditional gingerbread isn’t like the Mcvities ginger sponge cake version at all and so imagine my surprise when I was sent some Horsham Gingerbread to review and it didn’t look or taste like that in the slightest.
Launched in 2013 by Lesley Ward, the inspiration for the infamous Horsham gingerbread comes from a family recipe of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who lived near Horsham in West Sussex as well as Lesley’s own collection of old hand written recipes. It is made in small batches in a family bakery in West Sussex near Chichester and some of the ingredients include local honey and linseed meal as well as flour from the nearby Weald and Downland museum.
The gingerbread is presented as a traybake of dark, solid and sticky squares and it smells of sweet, warm spices. Indeed if ever there was a smell to put a smile on your face this is it. It reminds me of warm kitchens, apron pockets, wooden spoons and licking out the bowl. It smells like childhood.
But the taste was a huge surprise, not unpleasant in the slightest, but totally different to what I was expecting. It’s chewy, sticky, and a bit like a flapjack in texture, but with way more depth and way more flavour. The ginger is just the right side of spicy hot – warming and comforting and leaves you with a little tingly bite when you swallow your last mouthful. Served on it’s own it’s great but warmed up and smothered in custard – oh my gingerbread days!
This gluten free gingerbread is made from gluten free rolled oats, muscovado sugar, salted butter, black treacle, candied peel, linseed meal, cornflour and ground ginger and makes for a lovely addition to your morning cuppa. I absolutely love ginger things and so this is right up my street. And on top of that I also love finding out about the history of food and how people used to eat. Horsham Gingerbread ticks both those boxes for me and there is a real nostalgic, evocative and quaint touch to it that instantly transports you back to childhood.
Aside from the gingerbread, the Horsham Gingerbread Bakehouse also make biscuits, again inspired by old, traditional recipes. They also kindly sent me a pack of their ‘Spicy Sussex’ Sussex Alberts; biscuits for cheese and based on a 19th century Chichester recipes.
Like the gingerbread, these biscuits are gluten free and are made from salted butter, muscovado sugar, gluten free oat bran, black treacle, raising agent, sea salt, allspice and cayenne pepper. They look a little bit like a digestive (oops Mcvities again!), nothing fancy, just a plain and simple biscuit to accompany a good cheese. Crisp and crumbly they tasted sweeter than I expected, but also way tastier than I thought they would be. Sweet with a hint of the spice coming through and a teeny tiny kick at the end, they make the perfect partner to a good stilton, or other blue cheese, or with a mature cheddar and a good old dollop of chutney.
You can buy both of these products from the Horsham Gingerbread Bakery online shop and there is free delivery on all orders (always a bonus).
Forgive me for mentioning the ‘M’ word once again but after having tried this version of gingerbread, Mcvities can well and truly do one in my opinion. Try it yourself and see what you think.
*products gifted for review