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.
4 See also
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 terms
Pfefferkuchen (lit. "pepper cake") or
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 (in modern-day western
Greece) to live in
Bondaroy (north-central France), near the town of
Pithiviers. He stayed there for 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 baked 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 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, England became
known for its gingerbread, as is proudly displayed on their town's
welcome sign, stating that it is the "home of gingerbread", twinned
Pézenas and Arlon. 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
Gingerbread became 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 published in 1796, contained seven different
recipes for gingerbread.
Traditional Toruń gingerbread
In England, gingerbread may refer to a cake, or a type of cookie or
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.
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
piparkūkas (Latvian) or piparkoogid (Estonian). They are thin,
brittle 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 a
little thicker than usual and are 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 (approximately ¾ of an inch) thick rectangular
gingerbread cake with a marzipan filling. The cantons of
St. Gallen are famous for biber, and are artfully adorned with images
Appenzell bear or the
St. Gallen cathedral respectively by
engraving or icing.
In Russia, a gingerbread maker was first mentioned in
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
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
In Poland, gingerbreads are known as pierniki (singular: piernik).
Some cities have traditional regional styles. Toruń gingerbread
(piernik toruński) is 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 former Polish capital.
In 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 a hand,
round and flat, and 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
In Panama, a confection named yiyinbre is a gingerbread cake made with
ginger and molasses; it is typical of the region of Chiriquí. Another
popular confection is quequi or queque, a chewy biscuit made with
ginger, molasses and coconut.
Dutch carnival cake
List of sweet breads
^ 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.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-10. Retrieved
^ "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.
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.
^ "Chef doma: Pryaniki i sbiten' Maksima Syrnikova". The Village. 14
December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
Look up gingerbread in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Gingerbread[permanent dead link] at the Open Directory Project
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