Gingerbread: Wikis


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Gingerbread in cake form

Gingerbread is a term used to describe a variety of sweet food products, which can range from a soft cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. What they have in common are the predominant flavors of ginger and a tendency to use honey or molasses (treacle) rather than just sugar. They probably also share a common history.



Originally, the term gingerbread (from Latin zingiber via Old French gingebras) referred to preserved ginger. It then referred to a confection made with honey and spices. Gingerbread is often used to translate the French term pain d'épices (literally "spice bread") or the German term Lebkuchen (whose literal meaning is unclear).


Traditional Toruń gingerbread
A Lebkuchen house

Gingerbread was brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis (Gregory Makar) (Grégoire de Nicopolis). He left Nicopolis Pompeii, in Lesser Armenia to live in Bondaroy (France), near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed there 7 years, and taught the Gingerbread cooking to French priests and Christians. He died in 999.[1][2][3]

During the 1200s, it was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. Early references from the Vadstena monastery show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease digestion in the year 1444.[4] It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as window decorations. The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates to the 1500s, where they were sold in monastery pharmacies and town square farmers markets. 100 years later the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK became known for its gingerbread, as is proudly decreed on their town's welcome sign. The first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made earlier, as ginger was stocked in high street businesses from the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 1700s.


Akin to the original middle eastern recipes, English gingerbread is a dense, treacly (molasses-based) spice cake or bread. Some recipes add mustard, pepper, raisins, nuts, apple, and/or other spices/ingredients to the batter. The usual way of making it is to melt the fat and then mix all the ingredients in a bowl (called "the gingerbread method") rather than using rubbing in or creaming to get the fat absorbed into the flour, and this makes it a particularly easy kind of cake to make. It is usually baked in a loaf or square shape, rather than in the round form common for fruit cakes or sponges. It is traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night. As a dessert, the bread usually omits raisins or nuts and is often served with warm lemon sauce. In the United States, this form of gingerbread is sometimes called "gingerbread cake" to distinguish it from the harder forms; as in England it is typically served in winter, but it is particularly associated with Christmas. French pain d'épices is somewhat similar, though generally slightly drier, and always involves honey rather than treacle (and originally its recipe did not involve ginger).

Parkin is a form of hard gingerbread made with oatmeal and treacle which is popular in the North of England.

In Germany gingerbread is made in two forms: a soft form called Lebkuchen and a harder form, particularly associated with carnivals and street markets such as the Christmas markets that occur in many German towns. The hard gingerbread is made in decorative shapes, which are then further decorated with sweets and icing. The tradition of cutting gingerbread into shapes takes many other forms, and exists in many countries, a well known example being the gingerbread man. Traditionally, these were dunked in port wine.

In Scandinavia, the most popular form of ginger confection is now the Pepperkaker (Norwegian), thin, very brittle biscuits that are particularly associated with the extended Christmas period. In Norway pepperkaker is also used as window decorations, the pepperkaker is then a little thicker than usual and decorated with glaze and candy. Many families bake pepperkaker as a tradition with their kids. In English pepperkaker would be referred to as ginger biscuits rather than gingerbread.

Gingerbreads are known in Russia. The most famous gingerbreads there are baked in the ancient cities Tula (Tula gingerbread), Vyazma, Gorodets.

Gingerbread houses and decorations

The harder German-style Gingerbread is often used to build gingerbread houses similar to the "witch's house" encountered by Hansel and Gretel. These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations,[5] often built by children with the help of their guardians. This form of Gingerbread houses is also popular in Norway. For the last 19 years (2009) Bergen have tried to make the world largest gingerbread house city. It's free for every child under the age of 12 to make their own house with the help of their guardians. Pepperkakebyen09.jpg

Another variant uses a boiled dough that can be molded like clay to form inedible statuettes or other decorations. Medieval bakers used carved boards to create elaborate designs.[5]

A significant form of popular art in Europe,[citation needed] major centers of gingerbread mould carvings included Lyon, Nürnberg, Pest, Prague, Pardubice, Pulsnitz, Ulm, and Toruń. Gingerbread moulds often displayed the "news", showing carved portraits of new kings, emperors, and queens, for example.[citation needed] Substantial mould collections are held at the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń, Poland and the Bread Museum in Ulm, Germany.

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External links

Simple English

Gingerbread is a word which describes different sweet food products from soft cakes to a ginger biscuit. Ginger and honey (or treacle) rather than only sugar, are usually the common ingredients to all the types of food product. They probably also have the same history.



Before, gingerbread (from Latin zingiber, then Old French gingebras) meant preserved ginger.[needs proof] After, it was a confection made with honey and spices.[needs proof]




Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis (Gregory Makar) (Grégoire de Nicopolis) brought ginger bread to Europe in 992. He left Nicopolis Pompeii, in Lesser Armenia to live in Bondaroy (France) and stayed seven years. He showed French priests and Christians how to cook gingerbread. He died in 999.[1][2][3]

German immigrants brought it to Sweden during the 13th century. Swedish nuns baked gingerbread to help indigestion in the year 1444.[4] The custom was to bake white biscuits and paint them as window decorations. Records show that gingerbread biscuits were sold in monasteries, pharmacies and town square farmers' markets in the 16th century.[needs proof]

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