GINGERBREAD refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically
flavored with ginger , cloves , nutmeg or cinnamon and sweetened with
honey , sugar or molasses .
* 1 Etymology * 2 History * 3 Varieties * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links
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 (Leb is unspecified in the German language. It can mean Leben (life) or Laib (loaf), kuchen = cake) or Pfefferkuchen (pepperbread, literally: pepper cake).
In the 13th century, gingerbread was brought to
The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits (cookies) 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. One hundred years later, the
Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK became known for its
gingerbread, as is proudly displayed on their town's welcome sign. The
first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates to
1793, although it was probably made earlier, as ginger had been
stocked in high street businesses since the 1640s.
Traditional Toruń gingerbread
In England, gingerbread may refer to a cake, or a type of cookie /biscuit made with ginger. In the biscuit form, it commonly takes the form of a gingerbread man . Gingerbread men were first attributed to the court of Queen Elizabeth I , who served the figurines to foreign dignitaries. Today, however, they are generally served around Christmas.
Parkin is a form of soft gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and treacle which is popular in northern England.
In the United States, this form of gingerbread is sometimes called "gingerbread cake" or "ginger cake" to distinguish it from the harder forms. French pain d\'épices is somewhat similar, though generally slightly drier, and involves honey rather than treacle. Originally French _pain d'épices_ did not contain ginger.
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 Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, the honey cake eaten at Rosh Hashanah (New Year) closely resembles the Dutch _peperkoek_ or the German _Lebkuchen_, though it has wide regional variations.
In the Nordic countries, the most popular form of ginger confection is the _pepperkaker_ (Norwegian ), _pepparkakor_ (Swedish ), _brunkager_ (Danish ), _piparkökur_ (Icelandic ), _piparkakut_ (Finnish ) and in the Baltic countries _piparkūkas_ (Latvian ) or _piparkoogid_ (Estonian ). They are thin, brittle cookies / biscuits that are particularly associated with the extended Christmas period. In Norway and Sweden, pepperkaker/pepparkakor are also used as window decorations, the pepperkaker/pepparkakor are then a little thicker than usual and decorated with glaze and candy. Many families bake pepperkaker/pepparkakor/brunkager as a tradition.
In Romania , gingerbread is called _turtă dulce_ and usually has sugar glazing.
A variety of gingerbread in Bulgaria is known as _меденка_ ("made of honey"). Traditionally the cookie is as big as the palm of the hand, round and flat, with a thin layer of chocolate. Other common ingredients include honey, cinnamon, ginger and dried clove.
In Panama, a confection named _yiyinbre_ is a gingerbread cake made with ginger and molasses; it is typical of the region of Chiriqui. Another popular confection is _quequi_ or _queque_, a chewy biscuit made with ginger, molasses and coconut.
* ^ _The Oxford Companion to