A Brief History of Gingerbread…
Gingerbread varies, ranging from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. The different types likely share a common origin.
Originally, the term gingerbread referred to preserved ginger. It then referred to a confection made with honey and spices. It was brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis. He left Nicopolis Pompeii, to live in Bondaroy (France). He stayed there 7 years, and taught Gingerbread cooking to French priests and Christians.
During the 13th century, it was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. Early references from the Vadstena Abbey, show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion in 1444. It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as window decorations.
The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates to the 17th century, where they were sold in monasteries, pharmacies and town square farmers’ markets. In Medieval England gingerbread was thought to have medicinal properties.
In England, gingerbread may refer to a cake, or a type of cookie/biscuit made with ginger. In the biscuit form, it generally takes the form of a gingerbread man. Gingerbread men are first attributed to Queen Elizabeth I, who allegedly served the figurines to foreign dignitaries. Today; however, they are more often served around Christmas. (Parkin is a form of soft gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and treacle which is popular in northern England where my father is from. It is DELICIOUS)
This months’ blog focusses on the harder German-style gingerbread that is often used to build gingerbread houses similar to the “witch’s house” encountered by Hansel and Gretel. I have made gingerbread houses of both the 2D and 3D kind and included a recipe…Enjoy!
2D Cookies – Trying out the recipe
3D Houses – Mini versions
- 600gm flour (1 cup extra if it is too wet when kneading)
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp. ground ginger
- 190gm unsalted butter, melted
- 290gm golden syrup
- Preheat oven to 180c (350F)
- Place all the dry ingredients - flour, bicarb, brown sugar and ginger into a food processor and blend until combined.
- Add melted, cooled butter and golden syrup and pulse/blend until the dough comes together.
- Place the dough into a mixing bowl or onto a table and knead - this is where you may need to add flour if it feels too wet.
- Dust table with flour and roll out.
- Cut as desired using templates or cutters.
- place onto cookie trays and bake for 12-15min or until golden (know your oven).
Happy baking and I wish you and your families a safe festive season and all the very best for the New Year…Merry Christmas Sam @ ColouredSugar x