From cookies, and biscuits to building your own gingerbread house, Gingerbread has many a talent BUT here are 10 facts you might not have known about this festive delight.
For some it’s when the John Lewis advert hits the TV, for others it’s when the big switch-on begins BUT there’s no denying when you smell gingerbread wafting through it instantly makes you feel and think Christmas.
Gingerbread has become a culinary staple at Christmas, evoking special memories of times past and creating new ones as you and your family get together to build the most marvellous gingerbread house, this delicious treat is a festive favourite up and down the country.
But did you know this was also a popular treat at medieval European festivals and fairs and Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband) would dress up as Saint Nicholas and give his children gingerbread and apples for being well-behaved children during the year? Yes, all true!
Below are 10 fun facts you might not have known about the humble and utterly-delicious gingerbread.
The word “gingerbread” comes from the Old French “gigembras,” which means “gingered food.” In Middle English (which was spoken from approximately 1150 to 1450 A.D.), the term became “gyngebreed,” and that evolved into “gingerbread.” Today, we use “gingerbread” to describe a range of sweet treats that combine ginger with honey, treacle, or molasses.
Gingerbread was a popular treat at medieval European festivals and fairs, and there were even dedicated gingerbread fairs.
The tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. According to certain researchers, the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” in which the two children abandoned in the forest found an edible house made of bread with sugar decorations. After this book was published, German bakers began baking ornamented fairy-tale houses of lebkuchen (gingerbread). These became popular during Christmas, a tradition that came to America with Pennsylvanian German immigrants.
British luxury retailer VeryFirstTo has partnered with highly regarded pastry chef Georgia Green and made the world’s most expensive gingerbread house which cost nearly £63,000.
It is said that the gingerbread man can be traced back to the 1800s. While today’s gingerbread man might be a little different, the classic shape still holds true. Many people love this festive treat, he’s even in Shrek!
Queen Elizabeth once apparently served her guests’ miniature gingerbread versions of themselves.
When our lovable gingerbread recipe was brought to Europe in 992 it was a cure for indigestion and upset stomachs! But with a sweetening of the original recipe, it was then considered a tasty treat.
The World’s Largest Gingerbread House Was 21-foot High!
Gingerbread was enjoyed in Queen Victoria’s household from a young age and a 14-year-old Victoria gifted her beloved King Charles Spaniel, Dash ‘two bits of gingerbread surrounded with branches of holly and candles’ at Christmas time. Later during Queen Victoria’s reign, she shared this Yuletide gingerbread tradition with her family; her husband, Prince Albert, would dress up as Saint Nicholas and give his children gingerbread and apples for being well-behaved children during the year.
The executive sous-chef at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, Jon Lovitch, broke the record for the largest gingerbread village with 135 residential and 22 commercial buildings, cable cars and a train also made of gingerbread. It was displayed at the New York Hall of Science.
We bet your guest’s faces will be in shock when you tell them just exactly how much you know about Gingerbread this holiday season.