There must be something in the water in Lincolnshire – Grantham in particular – to have spawned two notable and rather formidable female firsts and mislaid something of which to be justifiably proud.
Grantham is the birthplace of Margaret Thatcher, our first female Prime Minister and Edith Smith, the first female police officer with full power of arrest.
Now that is quite an accomplishment for one modest East Midlands town.
There also seems to be an all pervading air of domination and defensiveness in more than just a few of the locals; the county itself is positively littered with stately piles and crenellated castles. It’s worth having a look at the famous and beautiful Burghley House and Doddington Hall and taking a meander around the less well known Scawby Hall and Grimsthorpe Castle if only to drink in their gothic overtones.
One can only assume that situated up there on the eastern flank of the British Isles, just to the right of Nottinghamshire and left of the North Sea, the land and locals take such a battering from the north and east winds that they have hardened, tempered and fortified themselves over the centuries to repel or intimidate all invaders. Mrs Thatcher was capable of both.
But as for Grantham itself, it’s hard to believe that a town with such a noteworthy past should be careless enough to have mislaid something of such great value as the Grantham Gingerbread. Yes, Grantham (nearly) lost its biscuit.
The original Grantham Gingerbreads were a mistake. They first reared their golden heads in 1740 and were made by a chap named William Egglestone. He must have been having a bad day because he meant to make his usual batch of Grantham Whetstones. I’m not sure the name would be a big winner today but anyway, something went wrong with the mix and ta-da……the Grantham Gingerbread was the result. So – all went swimmingly with this absolutely gorgeous biscuit until about the 1970s. With the demise of so many individual bakeries in the town, the biscuit slunk away into the back of the local memories and the biscuit nigh on disappeared. Thankfully a revival took place in recent years and I do believe the biscuit is now available again.
There are a number of recipes around, all with their variations. I have used this particular one for a number of years. I will be trying out a few new ones that are emerging on line but this one is a good all-rounder. It’s also absolutely brilliant for dunking.
100g margarine, 100g caster sugar, 1 tbsp beaten egg, 100g self-raising flour, 4 heaped teaspoons ground ginger (yes, it is a lot, that’s what makes these extra special)
Cream margarine and sugar. Sift in the flour and ginger and stir in the egg.
Roll into small balls and place on a greased baking sheet, allowing room to spread.
Bake for 45 minutes and 140C.
Allow to cool slightly before placing on rack.