History of gingerbread: 6 fun facts about this glorious, spiced treat
#1 – 11th Century England: where the journey began
Ginger was first introduced to the UK by crusaders in the 11th century after their adventures around the world, it was originally used by chefs of very rich households until it became more readily available to the wider public.
#2 – A delicious fairground treat
Gingerbread biscuits called fairings were a very popular treat sold at fairs in England – it was thought to be good luck to eat gingerbread brought at a fair!
#3 – An unlikely royal invention
The invention of gingerbread men dates all the way back to Queen Elizabeth I; it’s believed that she instructed her cooks to shape and decorate gingerbread to look like her VIP guests.
#4 – The ultimate matchmaker
Love is in the air – well, it is when you eat gingerbread!
An old wives’ tale led people to believe that if single women ate gingerbread men, they would find a husband.
#5 – A festive tradition is born
Gingerbread houses were introduced in 16ᵗʰ century Germany, the wintery designs and decoration meant that they quickly became a Christmas tradition.
#6 – Nuremberg: the gingerbread capital of the world
A city in Germany called Nuremberg was crowned the gingerbread capital of the world in the 1600s and it still holds that title today.
Tips on how to make stunning gingerbread
Enough of the past, let’s focus on the present! Take a look at these tips and tricks to help you make the best gingerbread.
Don’t overwork the dough
Gingerbread is supposed to have crisp edges and a soft centre, overworking the dough will make them tough – and nobody wants that!
Let the dough cool off
Chill your dough in the fridge before you roll it out, this relaxes the gluten in the dough and makes it easier to handle.
Avoid a sticky situation
Save yourself from peeling gingerbread dough off your rolling pin or work surface – roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper.
Make sure your oven is at the right temperature
The sugar and golden syrup in your gingerbread make it more likely to burn in high oven temperatures, so be sure to use the temperatures specified in the recipe.
Cut out your shapes with ease
Dip your gingerbread cutters into flour, this prevents your cut-out shapes from sticking to your cutters.
Keep your cut-out shapes neat and tidy
To stop your cut-out shapes from distorting when you move them from your work surface to your baking tray, roll your dough on a sheet of baking paper, cut out your shapes, remove the excess dough and simply slide the baking paper onto your oven tray.
Add some colour to your gingerbread creations
Get creative when you decorate your gingerbread – add some liquid food colouring to your icing to make your biscuits pop!
Freeze the dough
You can pre-make your gingerbread dough and freeze it for up to a month. So, if ever you fancy some gingerbread, all you need to do is get it out of the freezer, defrost and bake!
Spice up your bakes
Why not add extra flavour to your other bakes? You can use your gingerbread to spice up your rocky road or elevate your cheesecake base.