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24 September 2014

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Market Drayton Gingerbread

By Meg Pybus
Gingerbread Men
Gingerbread Men
Gingerbread and Market Drayton have had a long standing history - in fact the first recorded mention of the sweet treat being made in the town was as far back as 1793.

Take a look at Meg's secret Gingerbread recipe

Have a go at making your very own Shrewsbury biscuits

Make the perfect pancakes with Weston park's sous chef Rob Hutchinson

There are hundreds of recipes, tips, and tidbits of information on the BBC Food Website.
View a printable version of this page.

The first recorded mention of gingerbread being made in Market Drayton was in 1793 by a maltster called Roland Lateward.

The earliest Gingerbread recipe dates back to 1390.

Billington's Gingerbread is the oldest surviving brand. It dates back to 1817.
In the early part of the 20th century, the small town of Market Drayton had four gingerbread bakers. The smell of the spicy little finger would have wafted around the town. The first recorded mention is Roland Lateward, maltster, who was baking gingerbread in 1793.

It was probably made earlier. There were already large stocks of ginger in High Street businesses in the 1640’s and 1680’s. Gingerbrede, the oldest cake bread in the world, arrived in this country with the Crusades. The earliest recipe dates from 1390.
Billington's gingerbread and a mixing bowl
Billington's gingerbread

Billington’s, from 1817, is the oldest surviving brand. Its history is proudly displayed on their packaging as an unbroken chain of bakers around the trunk of a tree, whose branches extend to markets all over the world.

In 1987, John and May Hayward Hughes of Cheswardine celebrated 60 years of their family making the gingerbread to the secret recipe. They turned the handle of the antiquated iron African Biscuit Machine for the umpteenth time. As in Billington’s Golden Age, they had re-started the exports. Back in the town, Terry and Theresa McCarthy carry on the tradition with the original machine in The Cake Box.

From 1850 to 1937, Chester’s made a similar gingerbread. Boughey and Cox carried on the Chester’s Prize Gingerbread until 1964. Their recipe and machine alas are now lost. Griffith’s strong men who piped the gingerbread dough through forcing bags are no longer and the business was sold by Mr Hiscock in the 1980’s. Joseph Master’s of Longford (once a Billington apprentice) sold his gingerbread under the Buttercross. Until her death in1986, you could buy her father’s creation from May Martin at the W.I.

It was not until 1985 with the publication of Under the Buttercross by Meg Pybus that the town again became famous for its spicy biscuit. Once more the traditional product was being "dunked", when a newly-baked gingerbread man leapt out of a local oven. Fairy Tale Gingerbread, founded by Tim and Sarah Hopcroft, created gingerbread men for all seasons and celebrations, novelty animals and gingerbread houses. Their products are distributed all over the country.
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