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Christmas Recipe Ideas

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Run, run as fast as you can. It just wouldn't be the holidays without the Gingerbread Man!

What child will EVER forget the time spent with Mom or Grandma creating a masterpiece of gingerbread and frosting. Be creative and treausre the time spent together - set the mood with Christmas music and a few lite snacks. Cuddle up close with your favorite little ginger people and get busy!

Here you will discover the history of gingerbread and European customs surrounding one of our favorite cookies.

Our Gingerbread page also features a simple to make gingerbread house for children. This little house is perfect for school parties.

Looking for a creative gift idea? Why not try "Gingerbread in a Jar? It's fun to create and your friends will love you for it!

And if we haven't satisfied your ginger tooth, scroll on down and warm up your trigger finger. We have links to crafts, recipes, gingerbread house ideas and so much more!

Enjoy and God bless you this Christmas season!

Gingerbread Fun

Mini Gingerbread House


What do you need?

7 Graham Crackers
Frosting - Vanilla, Chocolate, Red & Green
Colored Candies for decorating
Christmas ribbon


Put frosting in pastry bag or ziploc bag with a tiny hole in the corner.

Place one graham cracker on the table -flat - apply frosting all around the edges of the cracker. Place a cracker on each side - will appear to be a box without a top.

Apply frosting on all outside corners - from the top to the bottom and all over the bottom of the box.

Allow time for the frosting to harden. Apply more frosting on top of the top edges of the "box" and put the last two crackers in a "V-shape" on the roof. Apply frosting along the top of the roof where the crackers join. Allow time to harden.

Apply frosting along the roof to look like snow. Apply frosting to backs of candy to apply to house for decorations. Colored frosting can be used for doors and windows. BE CREATIVE!

Gingerbread History
World Record Book - Gingerbread


An I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy ginger-bread." William Shakespeare, Love's Labours Lost


Gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries. In some places, it was a soft, delicately spiced cake; in others, a crisp, flat cookie, and in others, warm, thick, steamy-dark squares of "bread," sometimes served with a pitcher of lemon sauce or whipped cream. It was sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, but it was almost always cut into shapes such as men, women, stars or animals, and colorfully decorated or stamped with a mold and dusted with white sugar to make the impression visible.

The term may be imprecise because in Medieval England gingerbread meant simply "preserved ginger" and was a corruption of the Old French gingebras, derived from the Latin name of the spice, Zingebar. It was only in the fifteenth century that the term came to be applied to a kind of cake made with treacle and flavored with ginger.

Ginger was also discovered to have a preservative effect when added to pastries and bread, and this probably led to the development of recipes for ginger cakes, cookies, Australian gingernuts and flavored breads.

The manufacture of gingerbread appears to have spread throughout Western Europe at the end of the eleventh century, possibly introduced by crusaders returning from wars in the Eastern Mediterranean. From its very beginning gingerbread has been a fairground delicacy. Many fairs became known as "gingerbread fairs" and gingerbread items took on the alternative name in England of "fairings" which had the generic meaning of a gift given at, or brought from, a fair. Certain shapes were associated with different seasons: buttons and flowers were found at Easter fairs, and animals and birds were a feature in Autumn. There is also more than one village tradition in England requiring unmarried women to eat gingerbread "husbands" at the fair if they are to stand a good chance of meeting a real husband. Of course, you could always visit Elizabeth Botham & Sons, a family-run craft bakery on the North Yorkshire coast of England, and sample some authentic pastries.

If you lived in London in 1614, your family would have gone to the Bartholomew Fair on August 24. Of the special cakes prepared for holidays and feasts in England, many were gingerbread. If a fair honored a town's patron saint, e.g., St. Bartholomew, the saint's image might have been stamped (and even gilded) into the gingerbread you would buy. If the fair were on a special market day, the cakes would probably be decorated with an edible icing to look like men, animals, valentine hearts or flowers. Sometimes the dough was simply cut into round "snaps."

Gingerbread-making was eventually recognized as a profession in itself. In the seventeenth century, gingerbread bakers had the exclusive right to make it, except at Christmas and Easter. Their street cries could be heard well into the nineteenth century, but in 1951, writer Henry Mayhew sadly recorded that "there are only two men in London who make their own gingerbread nuts for sale in the streets."

Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest and strongest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbreads. At every autumn fair in Germany, and in the surrounding lands where the Germanic influence is strong, there are rows of stalls filled with hundreds of gingerbread hearts, decorated with white and colored icing and tied with ribbons.

If you lived in Nuremberg in 1614, your family would have gone to the Christkindlmarkt in December. You would have bought carved Christmas decorations, special sausages, and the famous Nuremberg Lebkuchen flavored with ginger, which you probably would have thought was the best in the world. Nuremberg gingerbread was not baked in the home, but was the preserve of an exclusive Guild of master bakers, the Lebkuchler.

Nuremberg became known as the "gingerbread capital" of the world and as with any major trading center, many fine craftsmen were attracted to the town. Sculptors, painters, woodcarvers and goldsmiths all contributed to the most beautiful gingerbread cakes in Europe. Gifted craftsmen carved intricate wooden molds, artists assisted with decoration in frosting or gold paint. Incredibly fancy hearts, angels, wreaths and other festive shapes were sold at fairs, carnivals and markets.

Lebkuchen are made throughout Germany and large pieces of lebkuchen are used to build Hexenhaeusle ("witches' houses," from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, also called Lebkuchenhaeusel and Knusperhaeuschen—"houses for nibbling at").

Nuremberg merchants, in fact, were so well known for their spices that they had the nickname "pepper sacks." From early on, Nuremberg's Lebkuchen packed into one recipe all the variety of flavorings available to its bakers—cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, white pepper, anise and ginger.

The traditions in France were closer to the German than the English ones, with noteworthy recipes for pain d'epices coming from Dijon, Reims and Paris. In 1571, French bakers of pain d'epices even won the right to their own guild, or professional organization, separate from the other pastry cooks and bakers. In Paris a gingerbread fair was held from the eleventh century until the nineteenth century at an abbey on the site of the present St. Antoine Hospital, where monks sold gingerbread cut into the shape of pigs.

During the nineteenth century, gingerbread was both modernized and romanticized. When the Grimm brothers collected volumes of German fairy tales they found one about Hansel and Gretel, two children who, abandoned in the woods by destitute parents, discovered a house made of bread, cake and candies. By the end of the century the composer Englebert Humperdink wrote an opera about the boy and the girl and the gingerbread house.

At Christmas, gingerbread makes its most impressive appearance. The German practice of making lebkuchen houses never caught on in Britain in the same way as it did in North America, and it is here still that the most extraordinary creations are found. Elaborate Victorian houses, heavy with candies and sugar icicles, vie in competition with the Hansel and Gretel houses, more richly decorated and ornamented than most children could imagine in their wildest dreams.

Gingerbread making in North America has its origins in the traditions of the many settlers from all parts of Northern Europe who brought with them family recipes and customs. By the nineteenth century, America had been baking gingerbread for decades.

American recipes usually called for fewer spices than their European counterparts, but often made use of ingredients that were only available regionally. Maple syrup gingerbreads were made in New England, and in the South sorghum molasses was used.

Regional variations began occurring as more people arrived. In Pennsylvania, the influence of German cooking was great and many traditional Germany gingerbreads reappeared in this area, especially at Christmas time.

The North and Midwest of America welcomed the Northern and Middle Europeans. At Christmas it is still very common in the midwest to have Scandinavian cookies like Pepparkaker or Lebkuchen. Often one can find wives holding "coffee kolaches" (coffee mornings) at which European ginger cakes still reign.

Nowhere in the world is there a greater repertoire of gingerbread recipes than in America —there are so many variations in taste, form and presentation. With the rich choice of ingredients, baking aids and decorative items the imaginative cook can create the most spectacular gingerbread houses and centerpieces ever.


Types of Ginger  

Fresh - "Fresh" is something of a misnomer as even the newly harvested root is dried slightly in the sun before packing for sale. At its peak, in January and February the pale golden sweet flesh is low in fiber and medium hot.  The "hand" should be plump, firm and not too fibrous. The taste is mild and less "spicy" or "hot" than that of the ground spice. To use, fresh ginger is peeled for use in baked goods but left unpeeled if young and moist and used in savory dishes, i.e. Chinese stir-fries such as spicy three-pepper sesame beef. The root may be pickled in vinegar, canned, crystallized or preserved in syrup.  Fresh rhizomes are best refrigerated, wrapped in paper towels, in tightly closed plastic bags, where they will keep for several weeks.

Dried - This is the unskinned rhizome which is washed and dried in the sun.

Ground or powdered - This is ground from gingerroot. It is used in sweet preparations such as cookies, cakes and puddings. It is best to buy small amounts of good quality ground ginger, as the volatile essential oil responsible for the flavor is easily lost in the air. Ground should never be substituted in recipes calling for fresh.


Gingerbread Mix In a Jar
A Great Gift Idea


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed brown sugar

Directions: Mix 2 cups of the flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour with the ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. In a 1 quart, wide mouth canning jar, layer the ingredients starting with the flour and baking powder mixture, then the brown sugar, and finally the flour and spice mixture. Pack firmly between layers. Attach a card to the jar with the following directions: Gingerbread Cookies 1. Empty contents of jar into a large mixing bowl. Stir to blend together. Mix in 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine, 3/4 cup molasses, and 1 slightly beaten egg. Dough will be very stiff, so you may need to use your hands. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 3. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. 4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven. Decorate as desired.


Online Gingerbread Fun

These links will open in a new window and take you outside our site.



Gingerbread Houses
& Related Llinks


Gingerbread House Contest Charleston Parks & Recreation

Children's Gingerbread House - video Recipe and Instructions

Fun Facts About Gingerbread

Gingerbread Construction Company Order a pre-built gingerbread house.

A Gingerbread Workshop Formula for the best dough, templates for the walls and roof, and to keep it together, cement-like icing. Simple instructions and tips, templates to assist.

Gingerbread Party How to host a Gingerbread Party!

A REAL LIVE Gingerbread house in Savannah, Georgia Looks almost good enough to eat!

A Pre-Baked Gingerbread House - From Wilton

Decorating Ideas - Michaels.com


Gingerbread Men
& Related Links


Gingerbread Man Poems Great for felt board or puppet show.

Gingerbread Man Online Game Run, run as fast as you can!

The Gingerbread Man - Online Play


Gingerbread Craft Links


The Gingerbread Lady's favorite house (A cute coloring picture of a gingerbread house)

Gingerbread Man Pattern

Gingerbread Doll Chain Fold and Cut Gingerbread Man/Woman Chains

Gingerbread Baby House - With Jan Brett

Gingerbread Baby Board Game - With Jan Brett

Paper Gingerbread Decorations - From family.com

Gingerbread Garland


Cardboard Gingerbread Ornaments - From family.com



Gingerbread - Misc. Links


Whitehouse Dining Room - Picture of the First Family's Gingerbread House :)

Make a Christmas Scene with Wilton Tired of dusting your Snow Village? Is the cat breaking all of your Christmas ornaments? Then simplify your life this season and bake holiday decorations with fantastic gingerbread recipes from Wilton Enterprises.

Gingerbread party bags Adorable treat bags - perfect for your next cookie swap!

Hansel and Gretel Online




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