GINGERBREAD refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically
flavored with ginger , cloves , nutmeg or cinnamon and sweetened with
honey , sugar or molasses .
Gingerbread foods vary, ranging from a
soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 Varieties
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 External links
Gingerbread with royal icing
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).
Gingerbread is claimed to have been brought to Europe in 992 CE by
the Armenian monk Gregory of
Nicopolis (also called Gregory Makar and
Grégoire de Nicopolis). He left
Nicopolis (modern-day Greece) to
Bondaroy (France), near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed
there seven years and taught gingerbread baking to French Christians.
He died in 999.
In the 13th century, gingerbread was brought to
Sweden by German
immigrants. In 15th-century Germany, a gingerbread guild controlled
production. Early references from the
Vadstena Abbey show that the
Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion in 1444. It
was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as window
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.
widely available in the 18th century.
Gingerbread 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, contained seven different recipes for
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
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.
Belgium , a soft and crumbly gingerbread
called peperkoek , kruidkoek or ontbijtkoek is popularly served at
breakfast time or during the day, thickly sliced and often topped with
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.
Switzerland , a gingerbread confection known as "biber" is
typically a two-centimeter thick rectangular gingerbread cake with a
marzipan filling. Biber are famously from the cantons of
St. Gallen and respective biber are artfully adorned with images of
Appenzell bear or the
St. Gallen cathedral by engraving or icing.
Russia , a gingerbread maker was first mentioned in Kazan
cadastres in 1568.
Gingerbread confections are called pryaniki (sg.
pryanik), derived from the old Russian word for 'pepper'. Historically
three main centers of gingerbread production have developed in the
Vyazma , Gorodets , and Tula . Gingerbreads from
Saint Petersburg and
Moscow were also well known in the Russian Empire
. A classic Russian gingerbread is made with rye flour, honey, sugar,
butter, eggs and various spices; it has an embossed ornament and/or
text on the front side with royal icing. A Russian gingerbread can
also be shaped in various forms and stuffed with varenje and other
Poland , gingerbreads are known as pierniki (singular, piernik ).
Some cities have traditional regional styles. Toruń gingerbread
(piernik toruński), a traditional Polish gingerbread that has been
produced since the Middle Ages in the city of Toruń. It was a
favorite delicacy of Chopin when he visited his godfather, Fryderyk
Florian Skarbek , in Toruń during a school vacation. Kraków
gingerbread is the traditional style from the Polish capital.
Romania , gingerbread is called turtă dulce and usually has sugar
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.
Gingerbread is popular in England, and is available in supermarkets.
As in other countries,
Gingerbread biscuits are often decorated with
Royal icing .
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.
Dutch carnival cake
List of sweet breads
* Pain d\'épices
* ^ The Oxford Companion to
Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University
Press. 1 April 2015. ISBN 978-0-19-931362-4 .
* ^ Liana Aghajanian (2014-12-23). "How an Armenian Monk Brought
Gingerbread to the West". Retrieved 2017-03-30.
* ^ Anderson, L. V. "Why Do We Shape