The Info List - Gingerbread

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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 men 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).


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 , Pompeii, to live in 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 decorations.

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 town of 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. Gingerbread
became widely available in the 18th century.

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 gingerbread.


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 the Netherlands
and 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 butter.

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 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 Appenzell
or St. Gallen and respective biber are artfully adorned with images of the Appenzell
bear or the St. Gallen cathedral by engraving or icing.

In 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 cities of Vyazma , Gorodets , and Tula . Gingerbreads from Tver , 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 sweet fillings.

In 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.

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.

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 * Ginger snaps * Gingerbread house * Gingerbread man * Gingerbread Museum * Lebkuchen * Licitar * List of sweet breads * Ontbijtkoek * Pain d\'épices * Parchment paper


* ^ _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 Gingerbread
Cookies Like People?". Browbeat (blog). _Slate _. Retrieved 24 December 2013. * ^ * ^ "What is the history of gingerbread?". eNotes . * ^ Anne, Byrn (2016). _American cake : from colonial gingerbread to classic layer, the stories and recipes behind more than 125 of our best-loved cakes_. pp. 12–16. ISBN 9781623365431 . OCLC 934884678 . * ^ Donald F. Lach (2010). "Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume II: A Century of Wonder. Book 3: The Scholarly Disciplines, Volume 2". p. 442. University of Chicago Press * ^ _Slovar' russkogo jazyka XI-XVII vv_. 21. Moscow: Nauka. 1995. p. 31. * ^ "Chef doma: Pryaniki i sbiten’ Maksima Syrnikova". The Village. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2015.