Saturday 9 December 2017

Run, Run, As Fast As You Can... can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!
An early form of gingerbread can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes, and the Indians and Chinese who recognised this spice as a cure for digestive ailments. 11th-century crusaders brought the spice back from the Middle East for the tables of the rich. As ginger and other spices became more affordable to the masses, gingerbread caught on. An early European recipe consisted of ground almonds, breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and ginger.
The resultant paste was pressed into wooden moulds. These carved works of art served bore the likeness of new kings, emperors, and queens, or religious symbols. The finished cookie might be decorated with edible gold paint (for those who could afford it) or flat white icing to bring out the details in relief.
In the 16th century, the English replaced the breadcrumbs with flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter product. The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who delighted visiting dignitaries by presenting them with one baked in their own likeness. Gingerbread tied with a ribbon was popular at fairs and, when exchanged, became a token of love.

All over Europe, for the last 500 years, gingerbread has come to be associated with Christmas -the Germans claim to have invented the houses, the Swedes had guilds to which the artisan bakers belonged...and they all have special names for these beautifully cut and decorated shapes Polish pierniczki,  Czech pernik, Russian pryaniki, Croatian licitars, Scandinavian pepparkakor and Dutch speculaas.
Bob's Flemish roots mean we have a family fondness for speculaas. So when Steph mentioned that she needed decorations for her Christmas tree, I decided to make her a couple of Christmas Gingerbread characters. At our recent UCF Girls' Night In, Nadia had brought felt pieces for people to stitch - and although I was busy with other things on the night, she kindly gave me a couple of sets afterwards.
I made the boy and girl - but also stitched two minuscule pieces of Aida evenweave to make labels for their backs.
The boy's tag reads "Steph's 1st Manchester Christmas 2017"
The girl's says "Made by Ang, Xmas 2017"
I have also passed on to Steph some of the decorations from the 'family' box, which were ones given to her in childhood. So now she can start her own collection. 
I have just one new item for this year's tree here - more on that another time.


  1. These are delightful, just bought some gingerbread men biscuits to give as gifts at M&S on a 3 for 2 deal, but the one's you've made really do 'take the biscuit' They are super,

  2. Your gingerbread ornaments are very cute and am sure will be cherished for years to come! When my daughter was born, I started out collecting one or two special ornaments for her each Christmas - I'd write the date on the back and this continued for the first 4 or 5 years, and then, I couldn't keep it up!

  3. Love the pun, Cath. Bless, I imagine there are lots of us who intend to keep up that sort of annual tradition, but don't manage to sustain it.

  4. Awwww, these are so cute Ang! You must check out my university friend, Emily's, Gingerbread company, she makes Amazing constructions and they sold her products in either Harrods or Selfridges last year. Google Maid of Gingerbread.


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