Historical food and recipes have always piqued my interest as my A-Level Art History teacher was the well-renowned Culinary Historian Ivan Day, who alongside our syllabus regularly discussed historic foods of the period with us. I find it fascinating how tastes have drastically changed, yet many recipes from centuries ago have managed to stand the test of time and are still be produced today.
One company who are keeping some of these historic recipes alive is the Horsham Gingerbread Bakehouse. Based in Sussex this family run business was created by Lesley Ward back in 2013, who now works alongside her daughters to create a range of delicious produce all with their origins steeped in history. An authentic small, family run business all their produce is made in small batches at their bakery using local natural ingredients and are taste tested by even the youngest family members to ensure the highest quality! All of the products made by the bakery are gluten free with the exception of the original recipe gingerbread.
As the name would suggest one of their main products is gingerbread which was inspired by a family recipe of Horsham based poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, alongside Lesley’s own vast collection of old, hand written recipes. Back in the days of Shelley and right up until the First World War gingerbread was such a popular treat that towns and villages throughout Sussex boasted specialist makers. Sadly, the last of these ceased back in 1917 and the once thriving industry died out until nearly 100 years later Horsham Gingerbread decided to revive and recapture the taste of a the once popular delicacy. Alongside the revival of this 200-year-old gingerbread the family have also created a range of biscuits which all take their inspiration from historical recipes too.
Horsham Gingerbread Bakehouse kindly sent us two of their range of products to taste test ourselves, the Gluten Free Gingerbread and a box of Sussex Albert spicy biscuits for cheese. So, what did we think?
It’s hard to believe that this gingerbread has been made for hundreds of years and we are still able to indulge in it today! At first glance it may seem that the tray and scored pieces are pretty small, however it’s immediately clear when tasting it why as it’s so deliciously rich. The flavour of the mix is gorgeous and so different from how I was expecting it to taste, it caused a really intense blast of flavours on my tongue – in a good way!
We ate most of ours as it came, however as suggested we tried some slightly warmed with custard which was divine and made the perfect pudding for a chilly Spring evening. However, I’m sure it would taste equally lovely accompanied by ice cream on a warm Summer’s day too. It has a really luxurious quality about it which would make it perfect for special occasions or as a well-deserved sweet treat, it certainly didn’t last long in our house!
Horsham Gingerbread make a range of sweet and savoury biscuits all of which are gluten free and are produced using natural products to replace the gluten instead of ingredients like xanthan gum which are used in other products. We were sent the Spicy Sussex biscuits to try which for us was the perfect choice as we are all massive fans of cheese and biscuits – we may secretly be mice!
These biscuits are made taking inspiration from the cellar book of local Chichester resident Richard Fuller who lived in the town between 1739 & 1842 and the recipe book of his daughter in law Maria. Maria Fuller’s handwritten recipes date back to the early 1830’s and contain a number of items which contained cayenne pepper and allspice, both of which were popular with cooks during the 19th century. Horsham Gingerbread Bakehouse have used both of these in their recipe for these spicy cheese biscuits.
These biscuits are really crumbly and have an oaty texture and taste. When I took my first bite I was left wondering if I had read the box wrong, however the kick of the spice quickly followed. The subtle kick of heat complements the cheese perfectly and are completely different to any biscuits of this kind I’ve tried before. They are really tasty and have a slight sweet flavour to them which just works so well. They made a perfect addition to our cheese board and were also delicious to eat as they were too for a savoury snack. Thumbs up for the Spicy Sussex from us!
To check out the full range of products available please visit the Horsham Gingerbread Website. Plus FREE delivery on all UK orders.