Run, run, fast as you can,
You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!
~ The Gingerbread Man, a fairy tale
No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread.
In the ” The Gingerbread Book” sugarcraft scholar Steven Stellingwerf, stated that gingerbread may have been introduced to Western Europe by 11th-century crusaders returning from the eastern Mediterranean. Its precise origin is murky, although it is clear that ginger itself originates in Asia.
Gingerbread was a favorite treat at festivals and fairs in medieval Europe—often shaped and decorated to look like flowers, birds, animals or even armor—and several cities in France and England hosted regular “gingerbread fairs” for centuries. Ladies often gave their favorite knights a piece of gingerbread for good luck in a tournament, or superstitiously ate a “gingerbread husband” to improve their chances of landing the real thing.
By 1598, it was popular enough to merit a mention in a Shakespeare play (“An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread…”). Some even considered it medicine: 16th-century writer John Baret described gingerbread as “A Kinde of cake or paste made to comfort the stomacke.
Stellingwerf notes that the meaning of the word “gingerbread” has been reshaped over the centuries. In medieval England, it referred to any kind of preserved ginger (borrowing from the Old French term gingebras, which in turn came from the spice’s Latin name, zingebar.) The term became associated with ginger-flavored cakes sometime in the 15th century.
In Germany, gingerbread cookies called Lebkuchen have long been a fixture at street festivals, often in the shape of hearts frosted with sugary messages like “Alles was ich brauch bist du” (All I need is you) or “Du bist einfach super” (You’re really super). Itvis believed that the Germans also invented the concept of making gingerbread houses, probably inspired by the witch’s candy cottage in the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.
North Americans have been baking gingerbread for more than 200 years—even George Washington’s mother gets credit for one recipe—in shapes that ranged from miniature kings (pre-revolution) to eagles (after independence).
Gingerbread cookies are essentially dense, ginger-spiced cookie flavored with molasses or honey and cut into fanciful shapes (such as the popular gingerbread man). The first documented instance of figure-shaped gingerbread biscuits was at the court of Elizabeth I of England. She had the gingerbread figures made and presented in the likeness of some of her important guests.
Today #KitchenGenie brings to you the recipe for #eggless #gingerbreadcookie along with an easy icing recipe to sugarcoat the spirit of Christmas.
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