I hope you’re enjoying the still-hot-from-the-oven gingerbread with a scoop of Madagascar vanilla ice cream on it. Bet you another piece that you don’t know the history of this culinary treat, do you? Thought so. So do take another piece and I’ll tell you all about it.
Our gingerbread is the Swedish version which actually is Germanic in origin. It came to my nation with German immigrants in the same way that Christmas traditions such as greeting cards, Christmas trees, even wreaths came to Great Britain with German royalty that married into the English royal family. Thus it was that gingerbread is a Swedish delicacy that we bake here. During the thirteenth century, gingerbread was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. By the fifteenth century in Germany, a gingerbread guild controlled who could bake it.
Gingerbread in German is Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen (pepper cake). Properly spiced gingerbread has a slightly peppery taste, not strong but definitely there.
Several sources note (no writer cited) that ‘In Germany gingerbread is made in two forms: a soft form called Lebkuchen and a harder form, particularly associated with carnivals and street markets such as the Christmas markets that occur in many German towns.’ The hard gingerbread is made in decorative shapes, which are then further decorated with sweets and icing. The tradition of cutting gingerbread into shapes takes many other forms, and exists in many countries, a well-known example being the gingerbread man.
Though our gingerbread is spiced like the Swedes, ours is moist cake instead of thin biscuits (cookies as the Yanks call them) that tastes delicious warm with, as I noted above, vanilla ice cream. Oh and we don’t put raisins, candied orange peel or other such things in our gingerbread.
So would you like yet a third piece?