* Prices may differ from that shown
I've only ever bought Grasmere gingerbread from the tiny little shop in the village of Grasmere in the lake district, where it is made. You can, however, order online but unfortunately delivery is £5.95. They will, however, deliver it to virtually anywhere in the world. The shop has it's own website which is hugely informative and will tell you all the history of the recipe and the shop; www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk. Grasmere gingerbread is not like any gingerbread you've ever had before - it's not that hard crunchy stuff that you make into the shape of a man and then bite it's head off. It's a much more classy affair and only comes in large biscuit sized rectangles and really does taste of ginger (but not in an over powering way). It has a crumbly texture on top and then underneath it is very slightly chewy and soft. It comes in an old fashioned paper package. The gingerbread recipe is a closely guarded 150 year old secret but Jamie Oliver and others have had a go at replicating it - I've not tried making it but if you google 'Grasmere Gingerbread Recipe', you will find a number of recipes to try. I don't live far from the lake district but Grasmere Gingerbread is a lovely little treat and a highlight of a trip to Grasmere and definitely not to be missed if you're going there!
Having stumbled across Grasmere by accident we were pleasantly surprised to find this little gem of a place hidden away. Having just been to see Wordsworth's grave we were following the path round when I was hit by the unmistakeable scent of warm gingerbread, this of course required further investigation... The entrance to the shop is at a funny angle, almost round the back and tucked into the corner. At first I didn't realise the scent was coming from a shop as it looks very much like a family home but it is in fact a tiny shop, so tiny that it's almost one in one out. I would advise against attempting to get a pram or wheelchair inside, which is a shame as being left outside means you miss the experience of purchasing the gingerbread. Usually buying something in a shop is a mundane affair but not at Sarah Nelson's. They have really put the effort into recreating the original experience. You are served by one of two people, both are dressed in period costume consisting of frilly white aprons and bonnets with impeccable manners, just how service used to be. Gingerbread is offered pre wrapped in simply printed greaseproof paper and is available in packs of 6 (£2.50) or 12 (£4.50) and is popped inside a paper bag and given with a smile. The shop does sell other items but we didn't get chance for a proper look around as the shop was very busy. The rum butter did catch my eye though, maybe next time I'll try some. Some would argue that £4.50 is a lot for 12 pieces of gingerbread but for a traditional product, made with such care I think it is more than appropriate. The ginger bread also makes a fabulous and affordable souvenir. Prior to opening my lovely little packet of yumminess I genuinely believed I knew what gingerbread was. This stuff is nothing like I imagined, forget the hard, dry, crunchy stuff that gingerbread men are made of this stuff is a complete different experience. The product consists of a crunchy base and a really crumbly top in between which is sandwiched a layer of gooey gingery loveliness. There are chunks of sticky ginger throughout and the crumbly topping is divine. I've never had gingerbread that was this soft and I loved it. The ginger taste is far from overbearing despite the pieces of ginger, it's a warming soft spicy taste with hints of treacle and brown sugar and it's perfect with a cuppa when your freezing in your tent! *This product is also available to purchase online but with a hefty delivery charge of £5.95 (for upto 8 items). I cannot comment on the online service as I have never made a purchase online.
I'm lucky enough to live only a couple hours drive away from the Lake District National Park and so I have been to the Lakes many a time in my life. I prefer the quieter areas and Lakes than the hustle and bustle of Windermere, which is the biggest lake and thus the busiest, however I always like to have a drive to Grasmere, even if it's only to pop into the famous Gingerbread shop! Grasmere village is just north of Windermere, and it's a big tourist attraction as it was the home of the famous poet, William Wordsworth, and his grave is also here for everyone to visit. It's a gorgeous little village, but it also gets extremely busy making it tough to drive through as there are often no pavements, and finding a parking space can also be quite tough! In the middle of Grasmere, next to the church, is the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. Around 1850 a small cottage named 'Gate Cottage' became available to rent. It was originally built in 1630 to be used as the village school, and it was big enough back then as education was not compulsory and so only people who could afford to send their children to school. When education did become compulsory, a school was built to fit in all the village children, and the Nelson family took over the cottage. Sarah Nelson made gingerbread and sold it to the Victorian tourists passing by, sitting in the cobbled yard in her white apron. Her gingerbread soon became renowned and the recipe was locked away in a local bank vault, and she turned her parlour into a shop. Sarah Nelson died in 1904, but thankfully her secret did not, as it was passed down to her niece and well, the rest is history! I love visiting this little shop, and I must say it really is tiny. People queue in the very tiny entrance way, and most people have the common sense to not take in pushchairs, and leave their children with another adult outside as it is a squeeze. But of course, there's always one. There's information on the walls about the history, and the gorgeous smell of gingerbread is everywhere. The shop itself is a tiny room, but its old fashioned and full of tradition. There are usually 2 women serving behind the counter, both wearing old fashioned white aprons which really add to the feel of the place. The gingerbread is of course right at the front, a pack of 6 pieces costs £2.50 and a pack of 12 costs £4.50, I always go for the pack of 12! There's also a good variety of Lakeland treats to buy here ranging from fudge, to teabags and even ginger wine. The gingerbread itself comes wrapped in white paper and states 'None Genuine without Trademark' which is what Sarah Nelson wrote on her gingerbread as people attempt to copy it. It states on the Grasmere Gingerbread website that you may see imitations of it in shops in the Lake District however it will only be a copy. The ONLY place you can get this genuine gorgeous gingerbread is at this shop (or you can order some direct on the website, but more of that later!) and the recipe is still to this day locked away in the bank. I love this gingerbread. Are you bored of your average gingerbread men from the local bakers? You need to try some of this! If I'm honest, gingerbread isn't something I would really ever fancy eating, but once I start munching on this, I really have to stop myself it is so incredibly moreish. It does also make a bit of a mess. A piece of gingerbread is quite thin, the middle is chewy and delicious, and it has a good coating of lovely crunchy crumbs. It's quite hard to describe as I've never had anything like it before, but one thing I do know is that it's really very tasty. It does state on the packaging that the fresher the gingerbread is, the better it tastes, but I never need to worry about that as it barely lasts 2 days when I buy some! If you live too far away from the Lake District then you can order some from their website: http://www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk Here you can read more in-depth about the history of Sarah Nelson and find the opening hours for the shop. If you are visiting the Lake District anytime soon, then you must take a visit to Grasmere Gingerbread shop, you won't be disappointed!
I paid a visit to the Lake District and popped into the very pretty village of Grasmere, when I saw the Sara Nelson's gingerbread shop and factory that I had heard so much about. It didn't look much like a shop or factory, just a tiny little cottage with such a delicious aroma coming from it and a queue of people outside. I am not a big fan of dry, crispy gingerbread that you get in normal bakeries and supermarkets, however I was drawn into the Grasmere shop by its enticing smell as they cook their products on the premises. It is such a little shop inside that looks very old fashioned inside and the staff are dressed in traditional clothes. The gingerbread is not cheap, over two pounds for six pieces. They sell various other things such as rum butter, fudges, gingerbread tins, cotton bags, and other various gingerbread related paraphernalia. My first bite of the gingerbread made my mouth tingle, I have never tasted gingerbread like this before. It has three layers, a crunchy bottom layer, a compressed ginger layer topped with a crumble like layer. I am normally quite disciplined but these were so nice I had eaten them all within an hour and had to go back the next day to get more. Now any visit to the lakes is not complete without a visit to Grasmere Gingerbread shop. The shop is open all year around except on Christmas day and Good Friday. Their normal opening hours are Monday to Saturday 9.15am to 5.30pm and Sundays 12.30pm to 5.30pm. However these times are shorter in the winter so if you are going then it is best to check first. If you are not able to make it to the shop they do sell their products online http://www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk/index.htm However you do have to order quite a lot to make it worth your while, as the postage is £5.95 for up to eight items.
This is, quite simply, the best gingerbread in the world. Buying it is itself an experience that's worth having, not least because it involves a trip to the beautiful Lakeland village of Grasmere. My advice to find the store is simply to follow your nose. You'll smell a wonderful, biscuitey aroma long before you ever clap eyes on Sarah Nelson's olde worlde shop. Then, you'll see crowds of devotees making their way towards what looks like a small, white church. Finally, you'll enter a small, warm, dark room, where you are greated by assistants in (slightly twee) traditional costume. It's here that you can taste the gingerbread itself. This is not the rock-hard gingerbread you buy in the local bakers. It's a layer of gorgeously treacly biscuit, topped with some hot and spicy crumbs. (You can actually buy the crumbs separately to use as a cheesecake base, or on icecream). The recipe itself is a secret, and despite repeated experiments, I've been completely unable to recreate the effect at home (any tips?). The biscuits come in a simple greaseproof wrapper. They are then divided into slightly crumbly layers. Bite into a piece and you get a mouthful of gorgeous, dark sugar and treacle, followed by a powerful (but not overstrong) kick of ginger. It's a bit like eating a very compressed ginger crumble, and every bite is thoroughly, unmistakeably delicious. One downside is the price: at over two quid for a packet of six biscuits, it is very definitely not cheap. Those unable to get to the shop can mail order the gingerbread online, but post and packaging is a prohibitive six quid. What's more, unless you have a huge family, a bulk order isn't really possible because the gingerbread is best eaten really fresh - i.e. within a couple of days of purchase. After this, it loses its texture and requires warming through in the oven to be edible. To conclude, this is a lovely gift to take home after a Lakeland holiday, but the price of P&P on the mail order makes it more or less impossible for those of us who don't live locally to sample these biscuits regularly.
This is gingerbread like no other so don't stop reading if you happen to dislike your bog standard gingerbread men. It's very, very different. Just to make sure I get it spot on I am eating some as I type so you can be sure that this review is as accurate as possible. I would say this is probably my favourite food ever and visiting the shop has always been a highlight of every holiday in the Lake District (and that's saying something because the place has a lot more than gingerbread to offer). It's often described as being more like shortbread but it's so much nicer than that! I don't even like shortbread so I disagree anyway. It's just delicious and soft and crumbly and gingery and spicy. The main taste is just deliciously spicy - mainly ginger, obviously. It is also nicely buttery and sugary (dark brown sugar) and every so often you'll bite into a lump of peel which gives it a slightly fruity taste. The overall effect is basically that it tastes like christmas but don't let that put you off eating it at any time! The texture is soft with a very crumbly layer on the top - almost biscuity in texture but so much softer and so much better. The recipe is an old one, developed by Sarah Nelson in around 1850 and somehow it just tastes like a good old traditional recipe. Unfortunately the recipe is also a secret and is even locked away in a bank vault so there is no getting your hands on it and creating your own substitute. This is far more than just gingerbread - the whole experience is truly wonderful. The shop in Grasmere is tiny and tucked away in a corner by the church making it very easy to miss. Apart from two things......the deliciously tempting aroma of fresh gingerbread wafting down the street and (usually) the mile long queue out of the door of the shop. So all in all you can't really miss it. But do not be put off by the queue - usually I find a quick wander round the village is all that's needed and when you return most of the crowds will have gone (it's usually a bus load of tourists just arrived who will soon disperse). Even if the queue doesn't go though I would still join it and just enjoy the build up - it will be worth the wait. As you get closer to the door of the shop the smell just keeps getting stronger - considering the length of the queue there must be a pretty huge quantity of gingerbread baked there each day so it's no wonder you can smell it. Still it hits you as even stronger when you get inside the delightful little shop (an old schoolroom which just adds to the appeal). There is room for about three customers on one side of the huge counter and a couple of people serving on the other side but the shop is packed full of goodies. There are all sorts of sweets - including kendal mintcake of course and souvenirs like aprons and postcards with the Grasmere Gingerbread logo on. Nothing tacky at all - just really lovely traditional looking delights in a really lovely traditional looking shop. And piled high on the counter are the packs of gingerbread. Each one wrapped only in paper (white with the blue logo) held in place with an elastic band. You can buy packs of 12, 6 or just individual pieces and the price is amazingly cheap for something so good - around £3.50 for 12 pieces. Once you have decided how many packs you want (usually a lot in my case) you will be served by somone dressed in Victorian style frilly apron and bonnet who will put each pack into a separate little paper bag. It really is a lovely experience and like stepping back in time. Once you have your gingerbread you leave looking rather smug as you go by the poor people still waiting in the queue; all the while wondering if you've been lucky enough to end up with gingerbread that is so fresh from the oven that it's still warm. There is nothing better than eating this stuff still fresh and warm from the shop. I have been disappointed a couple of times but more often than not it has been still warm when I've bought it and if not it is still wonderfully fresh and worth tucking into straight away. Having said that I am steadily working my way through three large packs I bought last week and five minutes in the oven brings it back to almost as good as the really fresh stuff. It's just so wonderful trying to find a nice quiet spot to eat it - but quickly because I find my patience soon runs out when I want to eat it! Then unwrapping the simple paper packaging, breaking a piece off and trying to lose as little as possible while eating it - you generally end up with crumbs everywhere which always seems like such a waste! For anyone who doesn't happen to be going to the Lake District, don't despair because you can now order the gingerbread online! It obviously doesn't come still warm and you don't get the full experience of the shop but it's really fresh and definitely worth getting. You can also buy some of the souvenirs online and you can order a giftcard. I have been lucky enough to receive a pack in the post as a surprise and it was very nearly as good as going to the shop! Even the cardboard box it came in had their logo on and I've still got it. Mine came in a lovely little presentation tin which is very cute as well as being very useful - it's the perfect size for carrying 6 pieces of gingerbread for a picnic or snack without it getting bashed up. Postage is expensive bringing the price to almost £8 for a pack of six but the more you buy the better the deal because the postage doesn't increase if you add a few more items. I would really recommend visiting this shop if you happen to be in the area and I'd almost say it's worth going especially! Even if you're not a fan (and don't be put of before you try because it's like nothing else) it makes excellent presents. I find a pack of six keeps people very happy as a souvenir from my holiday and at a cost of only £1.90 it really couldn't be better. Overall this is an experience not to be missed whether you think you like gingerbread or not.