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houseHistory of Gingerbreadhouse

~ Read about the history of gingerbread ~
and fun ways of making things with it


gingerboy"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.

gingergirlOf all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest and strongest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbreads. 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").

gingerboy"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.

gingergirlGingerbread 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.

gingerboy"By the nineteenth century, America had been baking gingerbread for decades.America has the largest collection of gingerbread recipes than anywhere else in the world.Maple syrup gingerbreads were made in New England, and in the South sorghum molasses was used. In Pennsylvania, the influence of German cooking was great and many traditional Germany gingerbreads reappeared in this area, especially at Christmas time.


Creative Gingerbread Fun

bowlGinger Bread Bowls

You will need:
Your favorite Gingerbread Dough Recipe
An Oven-proof bowl (aluminum or glass)
Wide Aluminum foil or cooking oil spray

  • Cover the outside of bowl with foil or spray lightly with cooking spray.

  • Roll dough into a circle that will cover the exterior of the bowl.

  • Shape dough over outside of bowl, creating a bowl shape.

  • Trim dough even with bowl's edges.

  • Cut small shapes out around rim of dough or all over bowl using tiny cookie cutters.

  • Place bowl, still inverted, into 325 degree oven ~ bake 20-25 minutes.

  • Remove bowl CAREFULLY from baked gingerbread bowl.

  • Line with a festive cloth and fill with cookies, treats, potpourri, whatever!


    Gingerbread Tree

  • Place a small artifical Christmas tree in an old ceramic crock.

  • Make gingerbread ornaments using your favorite cookie cutter shapes.

  • Add some tiny old buttons or raisins for eyes.

  • Tie small strips of homespun fabric bows on tree.

  • Drape cranberry beads garland throughout the tree.


    Gingerbread Links

    Make A Gingerbread House

    The Gingerbread Man Story

    Graphics from:


    1998,1999 ~ Nancy Alison ~
    Last updated June 6, 1999