Run, run, as fast as you can. To the pantry. Because June 5 is National Gingerbread Day!
An Armenian monk named Gregory Makar introduced gingerbread to Europe in 992, teaching French priests how to cook it up until his death in 999 (the poor bastard couldn’t live just one more year to see the calendar flip to 4 digits!). Cooking methods – and the final product – varied: in some places it was a soft cake, in others a crisp, flat cookie. It could be light or dark, sweet or spicy, and was usually cut into shapes depicting people, animals, stars, and Madonna’s cone-shaped bra from her 1990 Blond Ambition tour. During the 13th century Germans brought it to Sweden, where nuns baked it to help ease indigestion. In Medieval England it was also believed to have medicinal properties (though it didn’t do jack shit for javelin wounds). Gingerbread became a fairground delicacy, where it was cut into shapes to denote different seasons: buttons and flowers in the springtime, birds and animals in the autumn. One village in England had a tradition in which young, unmarried women were required to eat gingerbread “husbands” at the fair if they wished to get married. In the 19th century, the Grimm brothers found an old German fairy tale called Hansel and Gretel, about two children lost in the woods who discover a gingerbread house. The publication of this story helped popularize gingerbread houses, particularly in Germany and the United States. Nowadays they are mostly associated with Christmas.
To celebrate the holiday, we went the “crispy cookie” route rather than the “moist cake” way, given that tomorrow is a cake holiday. They were gingery and spicy and seemed a little out of place in June…but, they weren’t bad!
- Gingerbread Swiss roll with Lingonberry Cream (sugarandspicebaking.com)