Gingerbread has been available for an extensive amount of time, but the recipes and methods used to make it have been altered significantly over the years. Originally, gingerbread was manufactured from ginger, breadcrumbs, and a sweetener, like honey. People came to know that ginger has preservative abilities and utilized it accordingly.
The recipe for gingerbread amended, and by the 1400s or 15th century, the breadcrumbs flour had taken over what was used earlier, breadcrumbs. Molasses replaced honey. The biscuit became significantly lighter. Certain recipes created thin, sweet crisps of ginger and others were thicker and crunchy, biscuit-like.
Pictorial depictions that told fables were carved in wood and the gingerbread was pressed and rolled into them. First, it was made into people like figures, in the 16th century. The one credited with the first gingerbread men is Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Queen Elizabeth was queen of England beginning in November of 1558. She was also the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth was known for keeping well-dressed courtiers in her quarter. She has been deemed with the first gingerbread men. The tale goes that she had gingerbread cookies decorated and made to appear like her favorite courtiers, and had the cookies brought to them.
Gingerbread men tend to possess odd shapes. For example, the legs do not have notable feet, and they definitely don’t have any toes. The arms don’t have notable arms, and they certainly don’t have any fingers. Gingerbread women are almost similar in design. Gingerbread grows when it bakes, even recipes which do not eggs. As a result, the cookies are better off when they are not excessively detailed.
The nitty-gritty work comes into play when it’s time to festoon these cookies. So, gingerbread men and women needed chairs, tables, beds, houses, trees, wagons, and livestock that is also made out of gingerbread, and bakers made these.
In 1812, the Brothers Grimm wrote Hansel and Gretel. The tale spoke of a witch that wanted to ingest the children, Hansel and Gretel. She fattened them up with lots of sweets and candy, and the children chewed on a house made of, you guessed it, gingerbread. Gingerbread houses became quite famous at that time, specifically in Germany.
Gingerbread houses are famous in the United States and several parts of Europe, but odd enough, not in England. These houses are very prevalent during the Christmas season, but also work well for several other holidays. Valentine’s Day houses are festooned with red, pink and white candy. Halloween houses have ghosts darting out of them and are often intentionally constructed “wrong.” Imagination is the only limit when it comes to Gingerbread houses.
Gingerbread men are also used as simple Christmas decorations due to their symbolic significance. It truly is something unique.