Tuesday 18 July 2023

1960: "farinaceous chaos"

While browsing through Jèrriais articles from 1960, we came across this report and recipe for Guernsey/Sark gâche. With the Bouan Appétit exhibition just opened at Jersey Museum, it may be of interest:

How to make Guernsey (or Sark) gâche - official


Regarding Guernsey gâche  and how it should be made, there seem to be more ways of making it than Christmas puddings. Each Guernsey and Sark housewife seems to have her own recipe; like their clocks and watches, none just go alike yet each believe their own.


At former Sark Garden and Farm Produce Shows the Guernsey judges seem to have had much difficulty in deciding which gâche was the best and this mainly because there were so many different ingredients and so many methods of mixing. Who was to decide which was best? Some housewives use cinnamon; some used nutmeg; some used neither; some used peel; some did not. Some used currants, some used sultanas, some used both, while some used caraway seed. Some used margarine, some used imported butter and some used Sark or Guernsey butter. The results baffled the judges.




Guernsey gâche seems to have deteriorated into some sort of glorified doughcake with just anything thrown in, anything that come to mind.


Now the Sark Garden and Farm Produce Show Committee has insisted on some sort of uniformity. Order seems to have been restored out of this farinaceous chaos. This Sark committee has set an example of uniformity to all Guernsey housewives at daggers drawn with one another over the correct recipe, for the schedule issued sets out the one and only recipe which may be used for Guernsey gâche exhibits at the show to be held on the last day of August and the first day of September, the last day of August to coincide with the day excursion from Jersey.


The recipe


Herewith the one and only way of making Guernsey gâche according to the recipe of Sark, but note the recipe merely says "fruit", it does not say whether it should be currants or sultanas or some of each; while nutmeg is optional, it does not allow cinnamon, while peel must be included - mixed candied peel, I gather:

1 lb. plain flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 oz. yeast, 1 lb. margarine or butter, 1 dessertspoonful sugar, ½ lb. fruit, 2 oz peel, 6 oz. water (lukewarm), nutmeg (if desired).


Method :-


Cream the yeast, and sugar together in a basin and add the warm water to this mixture. Sift flour and salt together and rub in the margarine, add fruit. Pour the creamed yeast and water into this mixture and beat well till the dough leaves the bowl clean. Cover with a clothe and put in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours, or longer if required. Turn the dough out on to a floured board and knead lightly; put dough in a greased tin, cover and rise again for 20 minutes. Bake 1½ hours in moderate oven.


The reult! Good Sark or Guernsey gâche, but then I doubt whether any self-respecting housewife would dare call the gâche Sark or Guernsey if she used anything else but Sark of Guernsey butter, even though the other ingredients came from miles away. In my opinion and that of my forebears, this gâche is at its best when it comes out of the oven, but - chacun à son gout, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow.


Sark Correspondent.

Jersey Weekly Post, April 1960

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