It’s funny to think that the first documented instance of figure-shaped gingerbread biscuit was at the court of Elizabeth I of England. She had the gingerbread figures made and presented in the likeness of some of her important guests which brought the human shape of the gingerbread cookies into popularity. Read more here.
Christmas is never Christmas without gingerbread people or houses! I’ve come across several recipes for ‘Gingerbread Men’ from around the 1940s, some using Golden Syrup (UK), some using Molasses or Corn Syrup (North America). Some contain an egg, others don’t.
Below is my favourite recipe in which I make one adaption to improve the binding and holding together of the gingerbread. It tastes absolutely lovely, is firm enough to also make slabs for gingerbread houses, we may do that next year!
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and really hope and wish that 2022 will be a year that sees you in good health and experience much happiness.
350g plain flour
140g of butter or margarine
100g dark brown sugar
3tbsp golden syrup (or molasses)
1tbsp ground flaxseed (mix with 2.5 tablespoons of hot water, it helps hold the mixture together when baking)
1 tbsp ground ginger
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
Mix the flaxseed with 2.5 tablespoons of hot water. Mix well and set aside to thicken.
Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan on a low heat stirring slowly until all runny and melted. Set this aside in a mixing bowl to cool down a bit.
Stir in the flaxseed mixture thoroughly.
Add in the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt and all the spices and mix until a smooth dough is formed.
Wrap or place in container and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 180C
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm and start stamping out the gingerbread.
Place on parchment paper on a baking tray.
Cook for about 15 minutes (slightly more or less according to your oven)
Remove from oven when cooked. Leave on sheet to cool down for 15 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Once fully cold then you can keep in an airtight container for about a week or so.
Decorate with icing sugar when fully cold. If no icing sugar available dent the dough before cooking to form eyes, mouth and buttons! Or just decorate with anything you’ve got!
The cupboards were pretty bare today and I didn’t want to do a round journey of 40 minutes by car to visit our nearest store. I found lots of potatoes and carrots so it was relatively easy to find a “1940s British Wartime Recipe” based on these…. “Carrot Roll”.
My initial thoughts were….gahhhh… sounds bland but infact, with plenty of seasoning and some dried herbs sprinkled over, it was very tasty and looked rather nice too! I happen to like potatoes a LOT so cooking this until the outside was nice and crispy, really added to the flavour and kept my love affair with the humble spud alive.
As always, being a dietary vegan, I used a lactose free margarine.
Enjoy this, its economical and yummy! (and serves 8 for around $1.00 or 70 p)
8 potatoes (chopped, boiled and mashed with lots of margarine and seasoning)
2 large carrots grated
2 or 3 tablespoons of oatmeal/porridge oats (toasted)
teaspoon of Marmite (or other savoury seasoning)
salt, pepper and dry herbs
margarine or butter
Grate the carrots into a saucepan and add a little water (about 5 tablespoons) and bring to a simmer
Add oatmeal and marmite
Simmer for 5 minutes until tender- set aside to cool
Flour some foil or parchment paper and place 3/4’s of the cooled mashed potatoes in a oblong shape about 1/2 inch thick
Place the carrot mixture along the centre longways and dot margarine along the top.
Bring the mashed potato up along the sides and add the rest of the mash over the top and shape and completely cover the carrot filling. Add extra seasoning and dried herbs
Place on baking tray and cook in moderately hot over at around 220 c for about 40 minutes until the outside is lightly browned
Allow to cool down for 30 minutes before slicing
Serve with green veg and a meaty gravy (I use a meat alternative for my meat ration and made a meaty style gravy with some of that)
Being vegan and immersing myself in the 1940s Experiment (to live on wartime rations for 1 year, recreate 100 authentic recipes and lose 100 lbs) is not without it’s challenges. Tonight I will recreate a 1940s recipe with meat in for my youngest daughter (Em) but I won’t be able to taste it… instead I will smell it and closely observe my youngest Hobbits face as she takes the first mouthful. Hopefully there will be no wrinkled up noses or horrified expressions..
But the real challenge is finding or adapting recipes from the 1940s to suit my new vegan lifestyle. Luckily many of the authentic recipes I am finding were eggless or meatless..
For lunch today I made 4 very tasty eggless pancakes and both Em and I gobbled them down. I totally recommend you try these!
4 tablespoons of flour (UK)- 5 tbls (US) – 60 ml (Europe)
pinch of sugar and salt
milk and water to bind (vegans use almond milk)
lard or dripping to fry (vegans use Earth Balance shortening)
Mix the flour with the salt and sugar and add the water/milk to make a nice thick batter
Heat the lard/dripping until smoking hot in the pan then lower the heat a little
Pour in 1/4 of the mixture to make a medium sized pancake
Cook until browned and then turn over and repeat
Eat with jam, golden syrup or lemon juice (if being authentic)
Makes 4 pancakes
PS If you have a Kindle you can now take out a subscription for the 1940s Experiment on Amazon. This means the latest postings including all the photos etc are delivered automatically, as soon as they are available, to your Kindle, ready for you to read. Click here..
This is a WEIRD recipe… even with my eyes shut, this didn’t taste anything like goose BUT there is one element that could possibly, with some great imagination, remind you of eating stuffed goose. (the sage/bread stuffing in the middle)
I’ve seen two or three different versions of the recipe for mock goose but I chose the one without cheese and with lentils as I of course had to eat it for my lunch and as a vegan there wasn’t really a wartime alternative for cheese..
The recipe was quite nice and I’d make it again but I can’t see it being very popular with children!
1 cup dried split lentils
2 slices of wholemeal/wholewheat bread breadcrumbs
a little butter (or vegan alternative)
some veggie or chicken stock
garlic if you like
Place 1 cup of rinsed dried lentils and 3 cups of hot water into a saucepan and cook for 15 mins, drain and squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle salt and mix together
Chop onion and place in a pan with a little butter and saute lightly, add a little chicken/veggie stock (about 100 mls) and continue to cook and reduce a little. Mix in breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, chopped sage and mix thoroughly
Spread half of lentils in a shallow dish and press down
Spread the breadcrumbs/sage mixture over the lentils and press down a little
Finally cover with the remaining lentils
Cook in over at about 200 C for 30 minutes or so until the top is lightly browned
Had a very satisfying dinner this evening… simple and quick to make and let me tell you my belly is very full indeed after eating this meal. I had intended to make a dessert but in the end I had a handful of wild blueberries..
I always half fill my dinner plate with fresh veg and I served my mince slices with steamed cauliflower and string beans with a small shaving of salted organic butter on top.
8 oz minced meat (any type cooked)
4 oz cooked mashed potatoes
3 slices of stale wholewheat/wholemeal breadcrumbs
salt & pepper (thyme added is also nice)
Mix all the mashed potatoes, cooked mince, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper together thoroughly
Form into an oblong shape (like a small meatloaf)
Slice up into about 10-12 slices (if crumbly place in fridge for a while)
Pre-heat a frying pan and melt some butter
Place slices in and cook until browned on a medium heat
Serve with fresh veg
Serves 3-4 people
PS Oh I nearly forgot to say I got the recipe from this little pocket book..
As I struggle to keep within my rations (the will is weak at the moment) and due to the wonderful encouragement I am receiving from people on a daily basis, I’d really like to share with you a daily record of EVERY morsel of food that passes these nostalgic lips from now until next Monday.
I’ll take a quick photo of my dinner plate each evening so you can see that it is not piled high with ‘Nachos and Cheese’ instead of 1940’s cuisine…. 🙂
Will post every evening. (starting Tuesday evening)
When I opened a can of spam a couple of weeks ago I managed to make it stretch for 5 meals (2 main and 3 lunches)..
Here was a simple one using a small amount of spam but it nevertheless gave a nice flavour (spam is very salty)
Spam Hash Ingredients (for 1 person)
2 largish potatoes
1/4 can of spam
Cut into quarters and boil until firmly cooked, remove from water and cool
Chop up 1/4 can spam into chunks
Take large fying pan add in large blob of butter and heat
Add in onions and cook gently until nice and translucent
Take potatoes and chop them into smaller chunks
Add these and the spam chunks into the pan with the onions and continue to fry and stir
Turn down frying pan and cover if possible and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes. At this stage you can add in some chopped tomato if you like. If the mixture is sticking too much add in a little bit of water and stir