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Gingerbread Cookies, Women and Children and History of Gingerbread Cookies
I just wanted to send you all my best wishes for a happy and healthy Christmas season! I made these gingerbread cookies (technically gingerbread boys and girls) for my daughter's class earlier this month. i used minegingerbread recipemiRoyal icing recipe. for tips toobasic cookie decoration, click here. With these they began a study of fairy tales...
And since I'm a total nerd, below is an (excellent) excerpt from my first book (now out of print),Cookie sensations. I'm adding a chapter on the history of the decorated cookie, including the gingerbread cookie. So if you're a nerd like me, have fun!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GINGER COOKIES
excerpt from my bookCookie sensations, published in 2007.
No discussion of the decorated cookie is complete without a look at gingerbread cookies. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, gingerbread, derived from the Latin name for ginger, 'zingebar', was known from the 15th century as a ginger and molasses (a type of British syrup) flavored cake shaped into people, animals and more Animals. , and lettering, and usually gold (brushed with gold paint). In the Middle Ages in France, Germany, Holland and England, gingerbread was primarily a delicacy at fairs. Some English village traditions required single women to eat gingerbread "husbands" at county fairs to increase their chances of meeting a man.
Molding gingerbread people is a centuries-old tradition. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have ordered gingerbread cookies cut in the shape of her courtiers. In Belgium, biscuits were cut into popular figures such as Saint Nicholas. In the 1600s, gingerbread men were sold on the streets of London, possibly inspired by the folk legend of the gingerbread boy jumping out of his oven.
In the story, a woman desperate for a child bakes a gingerbread boy and dresses him in red currants, cinnamon, colored sugar and chocolate. But the biscuit comes out of the oven and sings out the door, "Run, run, as fast as you can; You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man. He runs from everyone he meets until a cunning fox tricks him. The legend came to America from England, although the story was called "Johnny Cake" in colonial times.
The charm of gingerbread inspires great literary intrigues. Gingerbread was one of the sweets brought to Sir Thopas at Chaucer's.the Canterbury storiesof 1386. "They fed it... royal spice / Of Gyngebred that was full of fyn / And Lycorys and Eek Comyn / With sugar that is Trye."2Shakespeare auch, inlove lost jobsAbout the sacrifice in the name of gingerbread, she writes: "'If I had a dime in the world, you would have to have it to buy gingerbread.'"3Dorothy Wordsworth shared that desperate love. The English prose writer (and younger sister of poet Williams Wordsworth) thought gingerbread was tasty enough to include in her diary. In January 1803, despite the intense cold, she and her brother left home in search of honey bread to satisfy their hunger.
Gingerbread is not always held in high esteem in the literary imagination. The British poet William Cowper wrote in his 1783 poem:table talk,he warns of the danger of missing one's potential and settling for a lesser substitute: "As if the poet who wants to get married carves a wife out of gingerbread."4This appears to be a reversal of the feelings of the aforementioned women at county fairs eating gingerbread "husbands".
Similar to Lebkuchen, "Lebkuchen" were used in Germany to build "Hexenhäusle" or "Witches' Houses," which have been romanticized and popularized through the history ofJuan and Mariawhen it was published in 1812 as part of the German folk tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. Seen as a waste of scarce resources, Hansel and Gretel are abandoned by their impoverished parents despite their father's reluctance. Alone in the forest, with the insidious trail of breadcrumbs eaten by birds, Hansel and Gretel wander hungry for days until they find a house "made of bread" with a roof "of cakes and windows of crystallized sugar".5They rip off pieces and gorge themselves, unaware that the cruel old woman in the house built the house on purpose to lure, trap, roast, and eat children. But Hansel and Gretel trick the old woman and push her into the oven to save themselves.
Cookies in America
Gingerbread was spread to America by European settlers and was also popular at fairs and festivals. New England recipes for flat cookies cut into patriotic shapes were created for "Reunion Day" or "Election Day." Before the revolution, the shapes represented a king, but later the bald eagle. The biscuits were given to wives and children when militias met for officer elections or military training.
Other biscuits had already settled in America in the recipe, if not the name. Martha Washington's "Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats," a manuscript "copied by an unknown hand sometime in the 17th century," was in Martha Washington's possession from 1749 to 1799. The recipes for "pie" are similar to what we have. Today. called "Cookies". For sugar cakes the baker is instructed to "take two pounds of flowers and a pound of sugar and the shells of two eggs and a tablespoon of burlap and a tablespoon of rosewater and make a paste with melted butter and discard it quite finely. We recommend a Glass of beer to cut the biscuits before baking them in a "very hot oven with a stone in the bottom".6
The cookbook even includes a recipe similar to today's royal icing called "Paste Royall." It is made with refined sugar, cinnamon, ginger and a "musk ash" made into a paste. It is then up to the decorator to “print with his templates. Then brown and serve. For true white paste, the baker must add the sugar to an "Alleblaster mortar with one ounce gum tragacanth soaked in rosewater".7Thankfully, today we have a jar of white frosting for even better results.
Gingerbread recipes won't be forgotten, made with a gallon of "pure honey" cooked over a fire. Then the baker adds "a good white wine vinegar" so the "foam rises" and you can skim it off before adding a "liter of stout". Ginger, liquorice, aniseed, red sandpaper and a piece of breadcrumbs are added before the baker presses the dough into molds "to make it just how you like it".8Another recipe suggests adding red wine to make "culler'd" gingerbread cookies.
Such collections of handwritten recipes were common at the time, as printed cookbooks were in short supply. But the popularity of publications devoted to good housekeeping and cooking is not limited to modern times. Gervase Markham's early seventeenth-century volume, Theenglish husband, included tips on cooking, plants, brewing, dressing, and curing the plague. Its success stimulated further publications in the 18th century. American colonists relied primarily on British printing presses, but British authors paid little attention to the needs of the New World and American cuisine.
The first edition of Amelia Simmons fromAmerican cuisineIn 1796, a handy and inexpensive paperback changed that. His book included recipes like Johnny Cake (sic) and Indian Slapjacks, which clearly called for American ingredients. Simmons is the first cookbook to use the American term "cookie", derived from the Dutch "koekje".
Notable is Simmons' addition of a newborn cooking method that uses chemical leavening agents in doughs, much like our baking powder or baking soda. Bakers used to beat eggs with air, but in 1796 an anonymous American added a chemical to create carbon dioxide. Simmons' cookbook is the first known to suggest adding pearlescent, a substance composed primarily of potassium carbonate and used to make soap and glass, to gingerbread and cookie dough.
Simmons' Gingerbread Cookie recipe calls for molasses instead of molasses to adapt the confection for its American audience. The dough combines cinnamon, coriander or allspice, "four teaspoons of pearl ash are added, dissolved in half a liter of water", flour, molasses and butter ("spread butter in summer, heat butter in winter"). The mixture is kneaded and washed with egg white and sugar.9
Simmons' recipe for sugar cookies calls for one pound of sugar, "slowly boiled in pint of water," and the baker must "feed well and cool, add two teaspoons of pearl ash dissolved in milk, then two and a half pounds of flour, 4 ounces of butter, and two large tablespoons of fine." Rub ground coriander, dip with the tip. The dough is then rolled out to a half-inch thickness and "cut into any shape desired".10
In America, forms and plates gradually disappeared in favor of an emphasis on contouring into the desired shape. German settlers in Pennsylvania made hand-molded gingerbread men and often displayed the cookies in windows. The English cut the dough with a glass or cup of tea. The Martha Washington Cookbook suggests slicing the dough with a glass of beer, as mentioned above. The idea of placing a metal border around the outline of a carved shape originated in the mid-17th century, and by the 1750s the cookie cutter emerged as a distinct form of the shape.
os 19ºc The canning industry developed the art of cookie cutters. Tinkerers used itinerant shops and packed their materials and belongings into wagons. Most carried cookie cutters to ensure uniformity, but made cookie cutters as needed at the request of the housewives. With the proliferation of machines, cookie cutters were sold in catalogs and stores around the turn of the century.
Cookie cutters were first hung as tree ornaments in shapes such as stars, moons, suns, toys, animals and people. With the rise of Christmas as a commercial holiday, seasonal fads such as wreaths, Santa Clauses and stockings soon took over. Nineteenth-century American cookie cutters were thick and heavy, often flat-backed and sometimes with handles. Air holes cut in the spine allowed air to escape to more easily release the dough from the cutter and were usually large enough for a lady's finger to fit through if extra thrust was needed. Shapes of this period included hearts, horses, rabbits, birds, ladies in long dresses, men in top hats, gentlemen, leaves and flowers.
Bridge decks of diamonds, clubs, spades, and hearts were popular in the early 20th century and were available from catalogs such as Sears Roebuck or The Bruce & West Manufacturing Company. With the advent of advertising, baking powder companies and flour mills began selling cookie cutters with their slogans printed on them. In the 1920s, cookie cutters were mass-produced from aluminum. Along with more options, an amazing consistency and uniformity between shapes has survived the century, and the basic shapes remain the same today.
But over the decades, companies have made cookie cutters unique to their time. Like any relic of popular culture, cookie cutters provide insight into the interests and lives of a generation. Pillsbury launched the Comicooky Cutters series in 1937, which featured paper stickers to be applied to biscuits resembling comic book characters from Moon Mullins, Gasoline Alley, or Dick Tracy. In the late 1940s, the Educational Products Company sold Blondie and Dagwood cookie cutter sets, complete with their children and Daisy the dog.
Wrigley Spearmint Gum advertised troll kits for children through the Mirro cutter company in the mid-1960s. For fifty cents, the kit included a foil cutter with decorative tips. They recommended adding "little eye candy" or sprinkling the top with "dyed fluffy coconut wigs" to get a laugh and "make an awesome hit."11
Plastic cookie cutters became popular in the 1950s. Hallmark launched its first set of cookie cutters in 1971, offering colorful plastic cutters with an incredible variety. As well as a wide range of Christmas designs, the cut shapes included baby cookies, Disney characters, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, the Muppets and Raggedy Ann and Andy.
Today, cookie cutters made of copper, aluminum, plastic, or tin can be found in almost every shape imaginable for the 21st century: martinis, the little black dress, an electric guitar, a bikini, a hula girl, a fighter jet. . , Pi, a laptop, the space shuttle...
We have a long history in modeling and decorating cookies. I'm not sure why these depictions seem so specific to sugary treats. I've never heard of a carrot decorated like a British king or a meatloaf that mimics Raggedy Ann. Maybe it's the natural enjoyment of sweets. There is something powerful and sweet about eating cookies that are symbols of religion, popular culture, nature, animals, and characters. We can consume tasty versions of the world by creating edible art simply by carefully shaping the dough and adding color.