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About gingerbread

Gingerbread. It has a spicy flavor, it´s always sweet-smelling. It reminds us of the time of our youth when we were baking gingerbread at Christmas time with our mum or granny. Someone reminds of Easter gingerbread brought home by a little caroller, someone gets its imagination working and offers a heart love. Gingerbread is a sweet-smelling gift by means of which we delight and make people smile. We can express our feelings, make a pleasant atmosphere or just please someone.

For someone gingerbread baking reminds of old folk traditions. Gingerbread was offered and sold on annual fairs, it belongs inseparably to our history. Gingerbread was made in the 15th century already in our area, it was gingerbread pressed in patterns. Cut out honey gingerbread is much younger but it was later changed by sweets. Gingerbread making started to decline at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Fortunately there are plenty of people who like to return to old traditional crafts such as gingerbread making. This craft is enjoyable, sweet-smelling and beautiful. A lot of us cannot imagine Christmas without gingerbread cookies.

That´s why I offer you my advice – you can try to bake and decorate your own gingerbread for your friends and loved ones delight.

I wish you pleasant time while baking gingerbread.

History

People made gingerbread from the time they knew honey, flour and fire. It is claimed gingerbread was produced in Mediterranean, in ancient Greece they used gingerbread baked goods during festive events and as sacrificial baked goods.

The oldest evidence of gingerbread baking dates back to 1335 year in Turnov in our area. There are lots of different written references concerning gingerbread to be found in many towns, museums in the south of Bohemia, in České Budějovice (Budweis ), Dačice, Český Krumlov and other places. The longest tradition preserved in Pardubice and its environs till nowadays.

First gingerbread makers came to Prague from Nuremberg. There were 18 gingerbread stalls in markets in Prague in 1419.

The products were intended for higher society consumers. In the 19th century gingerbread spread across fairs and annual craft fairs. High quality gingerbread was an attribute of every producer. Recipes were top secret, it was the property the son got from his father. Basic ingredients – high-quality flour, honey, sugar and spice – were the same ( Herynek 2005 ).

Gingerbread makers produced several types of baked goods. Gingerbread pressed in patterns is older one, it had fine structure from the pattern, no need to decorate it. They only spread caramel on it in order to get gold brown color. The other was gingerbread for grating, decorative gingerbread – „drůbeřka“ – served as a children´s toy, not edible. Because of practicality they later used tin moulds gingerbread covered with sweet coating. They sometimes attached paper pictures on them. Gingerbread as a confection was replaced by cheap industrially produced sweet in the second half of the 19th century. Even though honey gingerbread production remains a really popular and very old folk tradition.

For those who want to know more about gingerbread they need to read a lot of books and search in museums and archives. A good source of knowledge provides the book „Pečeme a zdobíme perníky“ ( We bake and decorate gingerbread ) by Miroslav Pelikán.

Cut out and by a white coating decorated sweet smelling gingerbread make a lot of housewives with pleasure. There are also many others who enjoy the taste of gingerbread but can´t make their own products. So here is my offer for them.

How to make gingerbread cookie dough

You have to knead and prepare the dough with love and patience otherwise you won´t succeed.

Prepare all ingredients first of all according to the recipe you would like to use ( there are lots of variations but they don´t differ a lot ). Grind the gingerbread spice always shortly before use, stored ground spice loses its lovely smell easily. The process of grinding – it´s the first impressive moment while making gingerbread. All your place is spice-scented immediately and everyone coming to your kitchen reacts like – what a nice smell!

Let fat melt in a mug after that, mix tepid liquid honey properly. Prevent honey boiling otherwise it loses its valuable substances ( But honey for gingerbread pressed in patterns was boiled ).

Whisk all liquid ingredients with sugar and spice ( honey, fat, eggs, honey, spice ) in a large bowl , at that step you can add cocoa as well. I personally don´t use cocoa, older recipes omit it too. What is truth – dark gingerbread with white coating looks impressive.

After combining the ingredients add the other half of weighed flour, mix well again and add the rest of flour and baking soda. Mix well the dough, at this phase it is sticky and sparse.

Add other 100 g of flour on a rolling board and fold the dough. Use your hands and continually add flour in dough. Now the dough is smooth, almost velvet and strokes your hands. Can you feel it?

Use as much flour in order dough is not tough but it should slowly spill sidewards when the loaf of dough is left behind for a moment. Cover the dough into HDPE and let it rest in cold place for 24 hours. It could be stored for a few more days.

Now you can go to bed. To be continued tomorrow.

Make gingerbread for the smell of it

Are you ready? Are you in the mood for gingerbread? So make a good cup of tea, let play carols and start working.

Prepare all you need then you don´t have to look for anything. Cover tins with baking sheets, tin moulds, alternatively a sharp knife and patterns. But itis quite difficult to cut out patterns with a knife. You may create new patterns not available, don´t hesitate to write a manufacturer – Mr. Jánský is ready to help you, he makes it and sends afterwards.

Prepare spread substance, one egg, one spoon of dark caramel and a teaspoon of water. Mix properly. Use a special brush to spread coating. Pastry brush makes visible lines on gingerbread .

Now you can start working with dough. Take it out from cold place, divide into 4 pieces and work with your hands to eliminate air bubbles not to find blisters while baking. Roll to 3-4 mm thick flat cake ( gingerbread extends ), cut out cookies arrange on tins covered with baking sheets. Pay attention to distance between cookies, they can connect.

Spread with substance prepared before baking to the edges, remove flour from cutting. Bake until edges are firm and gold brown at 180 C for about 10 – 15 minutes. You should test your oven first. Quick baking makes dark edges. Baked gingerbread cookies smear with substance. Remove to a flat surface ( table ) and cool.

Our place smells nice again. Other members of our family look in ( if they didn´t participate ) and search for badly done cookies. Unfortunately there are none, all are perfect. Let them taste a sample, finish your tea and you can repeat it sometime.

Gingerbread decoration

And here´s the final. Your talent and effort will ensure the beauty.

Prepare a board you will use while decorating, a bag for decorating ( alternatively paper cornets made of parchment ). But I have no good experience in using cornets, coating dries and stucks in there. It is possible to decorate with cut off HDPE bag, but I have personal experience with the method.

I have described coating in a special paragraph already. Every maker has own procedure. They say – don´t whip, just rub. My advice is the same, but there are recipes to whip the coating as snow. It´s definitely possible, but decoration is soft and peels off. To conclude – try and find your own procedure.

Don´t fill the bag too much, two or three teaspoons of coating is enough, you decorate easily and the liquid doesn´t come back to your palm.

Hold the bag and decorate your gingerbread cookies. You can find inspiration elsewhere – in Christmas magazines, special magazines orientated on gingerbread. Or you can just highlight the shape of a cookie, it´s easy and impressive.

Let the decorated gingerbread dry till the other day. If you want to stack up the cookies to a container ( boxes, stoneware pot …), put a soft paper between layers not to scrape decoration.

You can wrap gingerbread cookies in bags one by one, tie them with a ribbon. Then you can give them as a present your friends and enemies during advent time, everyone will be pleased. And you´ll feel happy that others are happy.

I wish you a lot of joy and nice experiences while making gingerbread.