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Christ-Materials #6 – Gingerbread

Continuing our series on the most popular foods during the holidays with a sweet and spicy treat

by Edward Voss

History

Gingerbread originated in Europe during the middle ages. Ginger, an Asian spice brought to the western world from the Silk Road trade, was added to traditional cakes made of butter, flour, and sugar. As it spread through the European continent each culture adapted gingerbread into its own tradition. Some instances of gingerbread were soft and doughy, while others were hard and brittle like biscuits. Gingerbread cookies were an idea of Queen Elizabeth I, where she decorated cookies for her honored guests. Gingerbread houses came from Germany and were a traditional Christmas practice during the Renaissance.

Gingerbread and the United States

The colonists brought gingerbread with them on their trip from England to the New World. George Washington’s own mother, Mary Ball Washington, developed a recipe that gained great notoriety after she served the Marquis de Lafayette.

These days it’s hard to imagine a gingerbread that isn’t shaped like a person or fused with royal icing to make a dwelling with gumdrops and peppermint landscaping. Gingerbread doesn’t appear on the desserts radar of most Americans until Christmas, and then it shows up everywhere from schools to Starbucks. Iced smiles adorn gingerbread people on commercials, in cartoons, and in children’s nursery rhymes.

Bringing Gingerbread to Life

You can make gingerbread in the comfort of your own kitchen with this awesome gingerbread cake recipe from Allrecipes.com. If gingerbread cookies are what you crave, Food Network has you covered. They suggest you chill the dough a few hours ahead of time, and they advise adjusting how thin or thick for you to roll the dough based on whether you prefer thin, crispy cookies or fluffy, gooey ones. For those with dietary restrictions, this recipe (gluten-free and vegan!) is the one for you.

Did you learn anything new or interesting today? Was there something we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

This article originally published on December 19, 2016

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