These recipes are based on a couple published in Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Book and Country Cooking published in the UK in 1960s and 1970s. I have substituted molasses for black treacle and corn syrup for golden syrup; Canadian all-purpose flour has a much higher gluten content than UK plain flour which may be why the first recipe always sinks in the middle when I make it. I haven’t tried Canadian cake and patisserie flour.

Both recipes use a 7inch square tin, lined with non-stick (parchment) paper. The spice mixture can be varied with the addition of some star anise to the mixed spice. Being UK recipes they use lb/oz; 1 cup flour is about 5oz, 1 cup brown sugar about 6oz; butter stick is half a cup, 4oz. Bicarbonate of soda is what I grew up calling what Canadians refer to as baking soda.

Fruit Gingerbread

4oz butter

12oz all purpose flour

3oz brown sugar

4oz ginger in syrup, chopped

1oz sultanas

1oz chopped walnuts

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, clove)

1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

8oz corn syrup

4oz molasses

2 eggs

a little milk

Add spices and bicarb. to flour, sift together. Rub butter into flour, add brown sugar and process. In medium bowl add eggs to flour mixture, then syrup and molasses. Stir in fruit and nuts. If very sticky add a little milk. Transfer to lined tin.

Bake at 325F for up to 1½ hours. If uncertain, test with fine skewer.

Mine usually sinks in the middle, maybe because of the higher gluten content flour, maybe soda lost some of its energy due to age. Neither is it my usual way of making gingerbread in which the fat, syrup and molasses are heated gently, eggs beaten into the mixture with sugar and poured into the dry ingredients. See below.

Scottish ginger cake

12oz all purpose flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of (baking) soda

1 tBsp (4 tsp) spices: ginger, mixed, star anise as preferred

8oz dried fruit including at least 2oz giger in syrup

9oz molasses

3oz corn syrup

6oz butter

3oz brown sugar (see below*)

3 eggs

2 – 3 tbsp milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Gently heat syrup, molasses and butter; add beaten eggs and 2 tbsp milk. Add fruit to this mixture before pouring it into the dry ingredients and mixing well. (This is not in any recipe I have come across but I find that if the fruit is added to dry flour, little white pockets of dry flour around the fruit can survive the baking process.)

Pour into lined 7” square tin. Bake at 325F for about 1¼ to 1½ hours. However, it scorched slightly on top at 1hr 10 minutes, possibly my oven is hotter?

*last time I made this I overlooked the 3oz brown sugar and it didn’t seem to make any difference to the end result.