Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gingerbread Cookie Day and Gingerbread Decorating Day

Dec. 6 is Gingerbread Cookie Day and Dec. 10 is Gingerbread Decorating Day. No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread.

Making homemade gingerbread men is easy and convenient with the Byrd Mill Ginger & Spice Cookie Mix. Simply add a stick of butter and 1 egg to the mix, blend well and spread the dough out thin about 1/4 inch. Use your cookie cutters to cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on baking tray. Cook for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. One mix makes 10 medium-sized gingerbread men. When cooled, decorate.

According to Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Making Gingerbread Houses, the first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. Chinese recipes were developed during the 10th century. Gingerbread made an appearance in Europe when 11th-century crusaders brought the spice back from the Middle East for the rich folks' cooks to experiment with and by the late Middle Ages, Europeans had their own version of gingerbread. The hard cookies sometimes gildes with gold leaf and shaped like animals, kings and queens, were a staple at Medieval fairs in England, France, Holland and Germany. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the idea of decorating the cookies in this fashion, after she had some made to resemble the dignitaries visiting her court. In Belgium, cookies were cut into folk characters such as St. Nicholas. In the 1600s, gingerbread men were sold in London streets, possibly inspired by the folk legend of the Gingerbread Boy who jumped out of his oven.

Gingerbread Magic
In the tale, a woman desperate for a boy of her own bakes a gingerbread boy and dresses him with currants, cinnamon, colored sugar, and chocolate. But the cookie jumps out of the oven and out the door singing, “Run, run, as fast as you can; Can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.” He escapes all whom he encounters until his fatal outwitting by a sly fox. The legend found its way to America from England, though in Colonial days the tale was named “Johnny Cake.”  

Gingerbread spread to America by European settlers and was also popular at fairs and festivals. New England recipes for flat cookies cut into patriotic shapes were created for "Muswter Day" or "Election Day." Prior to the Revolution, shapes often depicted a king, but later, the American Eagle. The cookies were handed out to wives and children when militants gathered for officer election or for militias gathered for officer elections or for military training. The first American cookbook, vintage 1796, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, has recipes for three types of gingerbread including the soft variety baked in loaves. "Shape [dough] to your fancy," Amelia Simmons recommended to housewives. Entrepreneurial peddlers later picked up on the trend and started selling fancifully shaped, handmade cookie cutters that, since, have become desirable collectibles

It's the perfect time to send a Holiday Gift Basket with Byrd Mill Ginger and Spice Cookie Mix so loved ones can make their own gingerbread men and gingerbread houses.