Gingerbread refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar or molasses. It is so symbolic to the holiday tradition.
Have you ever wondered how certain foods and recipes have evolved, from cultural influences of the land and its people?
The popularity of these sweet treats ,during the holidays can be attributed to the belief that spices heated one up in the cold of the winter.
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Is gingerbread hard or soft?
- Gingerbread foods vary, ranging from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger snap.
- A soft molasses and ginger cookie cut in various shapes, sometimes elaborately decorated.
Different forms of the sweet treat
In Medieval England, it simply meant ‘preserved ginger’ and was not applied to the desserts we are familiar with much until the 15th century.
The term “gingerbread” is now broadly used to describe any type of sweet treat that combines ginger with honey, treacle or molasses.
A bit of the “Gingerbread” history
Ginger root was first cultivated in China around 5,000 years ago, and was thought to have medicinal and magical properties. Some food historians say that the first known recipe for this sweet treat, dates from around 2400 BC in Greece.
Gingerbread is claimed to have been brought to Europe in 992 CE by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis. He taught baking to French Christians.In the 13th century, it was brought to Sweden by German immigrants (the Swedish nuns baked them to ease indigestion), and it also began to be made in Poland.
It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as window decorations.In the 17th century, there is a first documented evidence of the trade of these biscuits.They were sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and town square farmers’ markets.
In Medieval England it was thought to have medicinal properties. One hundred years later, the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, England became known for it, as is proudly displayed on their town’s welcome sign, stating that it is the “home of gingerbread”.
This sweet treat came to the Americas with settlers from Europe.Molasses, which was less expensive than sugar, soon became a common ingredient and produced a softer cake. The first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons published in 1796, contained seven different recipes for gingerbread.
How did gingerbread houses come to be?
They originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition.
Their popularity rose when the Grimm Brothers wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not these houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.Why is Gingerbread a Christmas tradition? Click To Tweet
What are some holiday traditions you are fond of ?
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What is a gingerbread house made of?
It is a novelty confectionery shaped like a building that is made of cookie dough, cut and baked into appropriate components like walls and roofing. The usual material is crisp ginger biscuit made of gingerbread – the ginger nut.
Where is the largest gingerbread house located?
Coming in at 35.8 million calories and covering an area of 2520 square feet, or nearly the size of a tennis court, the 21-foot high house in Bryan, Texas, 90 miles northwest of Houston, has been declared the biggest ever by Guinness World Records.
Here is a youtube video that shows the gingerbread house in Texas
How do you keep this house fresh?
How long does a gingerbread house last?Why is Gingerbread a Christmas tradition? Click To Tweet
Gingerbread Expiration Date
|The Cake lasts for||5-7 Days||6-8 Months|
|TheCookies last for||2-3 Weeks||6-8 Months|
|The Houses last for||3-4 Weeks||6-8 Months|
|GingerSnaps last for||2-3 Weeks||6-8 Months|
What is a gingerbread man ?
A gingerbread man is a biscuit or cookie, made of gingerbread, usually in the shape of a stylized human, although other shapes, especially seasonal themes are common too.
Who invented the first gingerbread man?
The first documented instance of figure-shaped gingerbread biscuits was at the court of Elizabeth I of England.
Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558 – 1603) is credited with the invention. She would delight visiting dignitaries with gingerbread men made in their own likenesses.
Gingerbread man- The book
‘The Gingerbread Man’ is a classic American folklore for children, that tells the story of this man as he escapes from the oven and outruns all the creatures that try to catch him.
This classic tale captures a child’s interest, page after page, as they take their imagination on a magical journey through timeless stories and adventures.
This irresistible retelling of the Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth is a perfect treat for cookie lovers everywhere.
Why is gingerbread a Christmas tradition?
The tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. German bakers began baking ornamented fairy-tale houses of lebkuchen Bakers would make them shaped as hearts, stars, animals, and more.
It would also be extravagantly decorated. In the winter months, Europeans would dip the decorated bread into wine and hang them from the trees.These became popular during Christmas, a tradition that came to America with Pennsylvanian German immigrants.
Links to my blogposts on holiday traditions
- Dear Santa….
- How and when did Christmas Tree tradition start?
- Why is Gingerbread a Christmas Tradition?
- Why do we put Oranges in Christmas Stockings?
- Why do people kiss under the mistletoe?
- Get your kitchen holiday ready!
- Unleash the holiday cheer!
- Holiday Gift Ideas for the Bakers in your Life
- Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Creating your own holiday traditions
Create your own winter wonderland this holiday season by indulging in the fun of making gingerbread, be it homes or cookies.
You can keep the decorations elegant and simple or go over the top if you wish. Irrespective of how you do it, it’s loads of fun for the whole family to get involved with over the Christmas break.
Go on, give it a try or make it a new holiday tradition at your home this season.
For more such holiday posts, check out the links below: