Take 4 quarts of fine flower and a pound of sweet butter and half an ounce of ginger and as much pepper beatten and half a quarter a pint of rose watter and as much seck [i.e. a dry white wine] and 4 spoon fulls of Tryacle. Rub your butter into your flower, mix ye [the] rest and make it into a stiff paest. When ye cakes are upon ye moulds prick ym [them] very thick. Sweep ye oven very clean & cool ye oven before you put ym in and bake ym drie. You may mix your flower at first wt [with] Carwe [i.e. caraway] and Corriander seeds or orrangers. Mix your flour at ye first.
The oldest recipe for gingerbread in our collections, from a Scottish Recipe Book, ca. 1710 (ms38930). Gingerbread houses are often part of the Christmas tradition.
Staff in Special Collections tried out this recipe in our Great Gingerbread Bake-Off. When this recipe was baked, it wasn’t very popular in comparison with others, since it called for equal quantities of ginger and black pepper. Even after the quantity of pepper was halved, the result had more in common with a savoury scone than a sweet biscuit!