The Everyday Lore Project

8 August 2020 – Grasmere Gingerbread

8 August 2020 – Grasmere Gingerbread

I’m going to keep this quick as it’s hot, my brain is fried, and I’m almost at the hallucination stage I’m so full of sugar.

It’s the nearest Saturday to St Oswald’s Day (5 August), and on the nearest Saturday to St Oswald’s Day, it’s traditional for children in Grasmere, Cumbria to eat gingerbread marked with St Oswald’s name. There’s a whole other famous rushbearing ceremony too, but I couldn’t eat that.

The recipe is another of those secret ones, but there are plenty of bootlegs floating around so I went with one of those and got baking.

It went so wrong. I have no idea why, other than using substitute ingredients and it being so hot the faux butter melted so my breadcrumbs resembled scrambled eggs. Although not that you’d know from looking at it cooked, plus it smells to die for. Incidentally, my hair smells of golden syrup, but that might be because sugar is leaching out of every pore as at one point I abandoned all pretence of scooping the mixture into the tin and just feasted on raw batter. 

The top is perfect, firm and chewy, the bottom on the other hand, is dust. Sugary gingery dust. But it tastes so good. So I did what any self-respecting baker would do, I doused it in cream and ate it with a spoon. But when the cream runs out, all is not lost as I’ve found another old recipe, this time for Gingerbread Custard. And we all know how I feel about custard

Quick weather watch update: As reported on St Sidwell’s Day:

If the first week in August is unusually warm,
The winter will be white and long.

Well apart from yesterday, I reckon the first week was pretty standard. So maybe the winter is going to potter along and just when we think it’s spring, BAM. What a lovely prospect.

I’m going to lie in a darkened room now. Before the jitters start. And the pink elephants. 


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Day, B. (1998) A Chronicle of Folk Customs, London, Hamlyn

Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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