With thanks to Jo Rothery for the words and Arundel Museum for the photos
There was some hot stuff at Arundel Museum today during the celebration of gingerbread organised by the museum as part of the Arundel Food Festival.
There were plenty of visitors eager to taste and find out more about all the goodies on show – ginger cordial, warming ginger tea which was perfect on a rainy, blustery day, crystallised ginger and ginger biscuits as well as three varieties of gorgeous gingerbread.
Two of the gingerbreads had been baked from WI recipes and were very different in texture and colour. Apparently most people baked their own version of gingerbread, some preferring to use golden syrup, others dark treacle, with the kind of sugar also contributing to the difference in colour of the end result.
The third gingerbread had a real touch of history about it. The recipe had originally been created for her son in 1784 by George Washington’s mother, Mary. It became known as Mount Vernon’s Gingerbread – and it tastes just as good now as it must have done then!
Another stand demonstrated how to build an attractive gingerbread house – and someone had added a touch of humour to the display. Sadly one of the beautiful houses brought in that morning had collapsed in transit so although visitors were invited to taste what remained, it bore a sign indicating that it had belonged to the Three Little Piggies but the Big Bad Wolf had come along and blown it down.
Children also had some activities to enjoy, decorating their ginger biscuits in designs linked to Halloween – in fact every single child who came into the museum had a go, as did quite a few adults.
On display in the foyer were some of the exquisite 18th and 19th-century wooden gingerbread moulds from the museum’s collection. Beautifully carved in incredible detail, depicting shells, leaves, even a coach and horses, and my favourite, a cheeky little dog. Most had belonged to T Fowl, a baker in King Street, Arundel between 1773 to 1850, and they would have been used to make decorative gingerbread.
It was not possible for these old and precious moulds to be used to make gingerbread for today’s celebrations, especially as they have been treated with conservation materials, but a friendly dentist had kindly used modern-day dental materials to copy one of them, from which Rachel at the museum had made new moulds so that the time-honoured biscuits could be made for the day.
Well done to the museum for staging a real celebration of a sweet treat which has stood the test of time.
More details about Arundel Museum including upcoming events and opening times can be found on their website: www.arundelmuseum.org or by calling 01903 885866.