"The first gingerbread man is credited to the court of Queen Elizabeth I, who favored important visitors...with charming gingerbread likenesses of themselves...After the Grimm Brothers' tale of Hansel and Gretel described a house "made of bread," with a roof of cake and windows of barley, German bakeries began offering elaborate gingerbread houses with icing snow on the roofs, along with edible gingerbread Christmas cards and finely detailed molded cookies. Tinsmiths fashioned cookie cutters into all imaginable forms, and every woman wanted one shape that was different from anybody else's...Most of the cookies that hung on nineteenth-century Christmas trees were at least half an inch thick and cut into animal shapes or gingerbread men ..." Source: "Gingerbread," Karen S. Edwards & Sharon Antle, Americana [magazine], December 1988 (p. 49+)
"For Christmas over a hundred years ago, Pennsylvania German children in Lancaster County helped cut out and decorate foot-high cookies to stand in the front of windows of their stone or brick houses. These cookie people--often gingerbread men and women iced with rows of buttons and big smiles--were a cheerful sight to snow-cold passersby. Figural cookie-making was practiced in Europe at least as far back as the sixteenth century--most of them were made using intaglio molds rather than with cutters." Source: 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles , Linda Campbell Franklin, 4th edition [Books Americana:New York] 1998 (p. 183)
A HISTORY OF GINGERBREAD HOUSES
According to the some researchers, the first gingerbread houses may have appeared as a result of the popular Grimm's fairy tales. Other food historians postulate that the brothers Grimm were writing about something that already existed. We cannot confirm either claim. Summary here:
"The tradition of baking the sweetly decorated houses began in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their collection of German fairy tales in the early 1800s. Among the tales was the story of Hansel and Gretel, children left to starve in the forest, who came upon a house made of bread and sugar decorations. The hungry children feasted on its sweet shingles. After the fairy tale was published, German bakers began baking houses of lebkuchen --spicy cakes often containing ginger -- and employed artists and craftsmen to decorate them. The houses became particularly popular during Christmas, a tradition that crossed the ocean with German immigrants. Pennsylvania, where many settled, remains a stronghold for the tradition. It is believed gingerbread was first baked in Europe at the end of the 11 th century, when returning crusaders brought the bread and the spicy root back from the Middle East. Ginger wasn't merely flavorful, it had properties that helped preserve the bread. Not long after it arrived, bakers began to cut the bread into shapes and decorate them with sugar. Gingerbread baking became recognized as a profession. In the 17 th century, only professional gingerbread bakers were allowed to bake the spicy treat in Germany and France. Rules relaxed during Christmas and Easter, when anyone was permitted to bake it. Nuremberg, Germany, became known as the "Gingerbread Capital of the World" in the 1600s when the guild employed master bakers and artisans to create intricate works of art from gingerbread, sometimes using gold leaf to decorate the houses." Source: "HOLIDAY TRADITION WITH SPICY HISTORY," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , December 9, 2001, METRO, Pg.N-9
ALL NEW GINGERBREAD CLOWNS
Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses recently released our exclusive Gingerbread Clowns. They're cute, colourful, covered in lollies and milk chocolate and are total hit with the kids! Call into any of our stores all over Melbourne to try your very own Gingerbread Clowns. Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses was co-founded by Otto Plarre who was born & trained in Germany, the home of gingerbread.
Here's a bit of fun from our friends in the baking industry in New Zealand...