The gingerbread is a kind of biscuit or cookie, characterized by a distinctive ginger flavor and usually is used molasses to sweeten it. It is typical of the Christmas recipes of northern Europe, where the recipe was carried since the tenth century. Especially at this time, it is common to find biscuits cut in the form of heart, man or even home with the origin of the story of Hansel and Gretel.
The term derives from the Latin zingiber and the old french gingebras or the German word Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen. In some European countries they have different variants of this cookie, for example in French cuisine the pain d'épices is often translated as gingerbread, in Germany and Belgium are the spekulatius, which are biscuits in human form and in Poland are the very traditional toruńskie pierniki.
In Panama, similar cookies is made in the province of Chiriquí. This dessert is called yiyinbre and is prepared with ginger and molasses. Also in the country is a confection called quequi that among its ingredients can carry ginger, molasses and coconut.
The piernik is a spicy sweet, typical of Poland and Germany resembling mostaccioli. The piernik the most famous come from Toruń, the city of Copernicus in Poland and from Nuremberg and its history dates back to the Middle Ages, but the bread flour and honey was being used on the territory of Poland today since pre-Christian times, especially from the pagan rites.
In fact, honey has always symbolized health, prosperity and sweetness, in short, was a good omen and it was also an inexpensive ingredient unlike sugar.
Towards the end of 1300 developed the trade in spices from the East and the trade routes crossing Poland, and also touched Toruń to go to Gdańsk. At that time the mixture of flour and honey were added spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, star anise, cardamom and pepper. Each piernikarz jealously guarded its recipe. With these the piernik spices became a symbol of wealth. Just think that the dough for piernik was part of the dowry of a girl!
In fact people used to prepare the dough for the piernik on the child's birthday, and the dough was kept aside until the day of wedding, approximately for 18-20 years when it finally was baked. This speaks volumes about the conservation of the mix both cooked and raw, which is really long.
The production of piernik contributed much to the economic development of the city of Toruń, where until today are produced pierniczki. At Toruń' is also Żywe Muzeum Piernika, the interactive piernik museum, where you can participate in the preparation of the dough, forming and baking cookies. The Pepparkakor, in Swedish, also known as Peparkake and Pepperkake in Norwegian and Piparkakku in Finnish are spiced cookies, typical of Scandinavia but also famous in the other German speaking populations. They are traditionally a Christmas specialty.
Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 355 calories per 100 gms
6 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 cup butter
1 cup molasses
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp honey
1 cup cold water
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease the special mould surface on which to bake the gingerbread cookies.
In a mixer bowl, combine the flour, honey, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Add the butter. Gradually add the molasses, egg yolk, water and milk. Process until the dough mixture is smooth and creamy.
Divide the dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper to a height of 4 or 5 mm. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and Keep it in the refrigerator for at least two hours or even better overnight, or put it in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it reaches a thickness of about half a centimeter. Take back the dough and cut it with special moulds shapes that you like suitably dusted with flour.
Place them on the baking sheet a few inches apart, and bake for 10 minutes, until they harden well. When cooked, remove the pan or mould from the oven and let cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
Now you can decorate with icing as you like, with the aid of a syringe and a little fantasy creating beautiful cookies to decorate your Christmas tree.