A HISTORY OF GINGERBREAD MEN
Here at Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses we love our delicious all butter, hand made gingerbread. Believe it or not, we still use the same traditional recipe now as we did more than 110 years ago.
After the Brothers Grimm's 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, moulded gingerbread biscuits.
Talented tinsmiths fashioned cookie cutters into every imaginable form, and everyone wanted a unique shape, completely 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, German children in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, helped cut out and decorate 1 foot-high biscuits to stand in the front of windows of their stone or brick houses. These tasty little people, often gingerbread men and women iced with rows of buttons and big smiles, were a cheerful sight to chilled towns people passing by.
Figural cookie-making was practiced in Europe at least as far back as the sixteenth century - Most of them were made using intaglio moulds 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 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, but we have found out the following:
"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, whereupon, the hungry children feasted on its sweet exterior.
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.
It is believed gingerbread was first baked in Europe at the end of the 11th century, when returning crusaders brought the bread and the spicy root back from the Middle East. Ginger wasn't merely packed with flavour, it had properties that helped preserve the bread.
Not long after it arrived in the country, bakers began to cut the bread into shapes and decorate them with sugar, and Gingerbread baking became recognized as a profession in its own right, with only the most experienced bakers allowed to create their ginger masterpieces.
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."
In the 17th century, only professional gingerbread bakers were allowed to bake the spicy treat in Germany and France. These rules were relaxed during Christmas and Easter, when anyone was permitted to bake it.
Source: "HOLIDAY TRADITION WITH SPICY HISTORY," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , December 9, 2001, METRO, Pg.N-9
Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses is proud to continue making our Gingerbread to this day, with a wide range of festive treats, including Gingerbread Houses and biscuits, alongside our delicious Gingerbread people. 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, Ballarat & Geelong to try one of our yummy Gingerbread People today.
Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses was co-founded by Otto Plarre who was born & trained in Germany, the home of gingerbread.