ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

It's Gingerbread Season!

Updated on March 20, 2011

You know that smell. There's nothing quite like that unique blend of baking spices wafting from the kitchen, blanketed in the cozy aroma of dark molasses - it's gingerbread season.

Kids always relish this time of year, when they can cut little gingerbread men and women out of sticky, brown dough and wait near the oven for them to crisp and bake. Then they can bring the little people to life, adorning them from head to toe with a rainbow of hair, eyes, clothes and shoes: the works. Then they can affix them with raisin smiles and M&M buttons.

The favorites are strung as ornaments on silky ribbons and then hung from the Christmas tree high enough that the pets don't get too tempted by the scent.

Gingerbread has delighted families for centuries and it is constantly being reinvented to fit changing times and palates. Early Greek and Roman bakers made a flatbread which was spiced with ginger that was consumed after a meal. In the middle ages, Englishmen with sour stomachs would suck on sweet lozenges called gingerbrati, made of honey, ginger, nutmeg and other spices. Bread crumbs were later added to this fragrant mixture and a forerunner of modern gingerbread was born.

Gingerbread went on to become the favorite item eaten at European festivals; Queen Elizabeth I reportedly loved it so much she employed a full-time gingerbread baker at court.

In France, the popular cousin to gingerbread is pain d'epices, or spice bread. Often the chief distinction is a lack of molasses, which dominates the American gingerbread flavor palate. Meanwhile, Native Americans influenced gingerbread baking by introducing colonists to maple syrup: to this day many American gingerbread recipes are flavored with maple.

Gingerbread texture can run the gamut of a soft, crumbly cake to the thin, hard cookie dough that makes for building stellar gingerbread houses. Many European bakers still bake gingerbread in intricately carved wooden molds. Various international gingerbread lovers have stretched the definition even more, creating everything from gingerbread pancakes to chocolate-dipped gingerbread biscotti - even "slipper" ginger flatbreads flavored with Chinese five-spice powder. 

Today, gingerbread is finding its way into all kinds of recipes, from autumn puddings to breakfast cakes to salad croutons, and it can be enjoyed any time of day, any season of year.

If you're making gingerbread cookies or building your own candy condo, follow these tips for best results:

  • Do not overmix your dough. Mix dry ingredients with creamed ingredients only until they are just blended or the dough will become tough.
  • Bake cookies on heavy-gauge baking sheets with low sides or no sides at all. Heavy-gauge sheets ensure uniform heat distribution and browning. The low sides make the sheets easier to grasp and allow the air to circulate more.
  • Shiny baking sheets divert heat and produce a softer bottom crust on cookies; dark sheets absorb heat and create a crisper bottom. Line dark sheets with foil if you want a softer bottom.
  • Use parchment paper as an alternative to greasing baking sheets. Clean up is much easier.
  • Bake cookies on a cool baking sheet, preferably one sheet at a time. If you find that the cookies are spreading too much as they bake, try chilling the dough or adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. If they are too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk.
  • Testing for doneness: For drop cookies, press your finger on the surface of the cookie to test for doneness; it should leave a slight indentation. Rolled and refrigerator cookies are done when they are just turning golden brown.
  • Cool all baked good thoroughly before storing. Otherwise, when they are covered or sealed they can "sweat" and become soggy.
  • For decorating cookies and houses, use convenience products to cut the time whenever possible. For example, Dec-A-Cake makes a full line of squeezable icings and sprinkles that are affordable and easy to clean up. Use M&M candies for a rainbow of possible decorations. Almonds too are great for everything from gingerbread-man noses to the shingles on a sweet chalet's roof.
  • Zipper-style plastic bags make instant, disposable pastry bags. To use, fill with icing, seal and snip 1/8 inch off one corner. Make several bags ahead of time.
  • Many baking books have patterns for gingerbread houses you can trace. Cut the templates from cardboard; you can cover the templates with contact paper so they can be wiped off and reused.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)