Christmas is right around the corner, and we all know what that means–cookie time! So for today’s post, I decided to try out a recipe for medieval gingerbread. I found this recipe on the Gode Cookery website. The interesting thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t actually call for ginger. The website’s author notes that the authors of Curye on Inglish feel this was an accidental omission by a careless scribe. I am inclined to agree, though the Gode Cookery author isn’t so sure and has made the recipe sans ginger with reportedly good results.
Before you make this recipe, listen up. This does NOT taste like modern gingerbread. The texture is very different, and it is way spicier. If you go in expecting normal gingerbread, you will be disappointed. You have been warned.
For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 lb of honey
- Up to 1 lb of unseasoned bread crumbs (I need about 1/2 this)
- Ginger-up to 1 Tbs.
- Cinnamon-up to 1 Tbs.
- Ground (white) pepper-up to 1/2 tsp.
- Pinch saffron-This is expensive so feel free to omit. The taste doesn’t really come through anyway.
- red food coloring–The medieval recipe calls for sandalwood to achieve a red color. Optional.
Bring honey to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top.
Turn heat to low and add your spices, stirring until well combine. At first the spices weren’t incorporating all that well.
So I swapped out my spoon for a whisk, and it turned out beautifully.
Add breadcrumbs. You’ll know when you’ve added enough because it will be thick and hard as hell to stir.
Line a pan with parchment paper and pour in your gingerbread. Smooth out the top so it is even. If you’re having a hard time with the smoothing, put some parchment paper on top and use the side of a drinking glass like a rolling pin over the top of the paper. Works like a charm.
Once cool, remove from pan and cut into squares. The medieval recipe suggests decorating with a leaf held in place by a clove.
I’m not going to lie. I didn’t like these. The texture was chewy and sort of grainy and the spices way too strong. The only one in the house who did like them was my four-year old son. So it’s possible that other people might like this recipe. Not me.
I was pretty bummed and wondering what to do with my double-recipe’s worth of medieval gingerbread when it hit me–gingerbread house!!!!
Let me backtrack a minute. Over the years I have tried to make countless gingerbread houses. They have all been epic fails. Now this irritates me to no end because I used to make custom cakes before my back went out on me. Here are a couple of my favorites:
I could turn regular cake into firetrucks and storybook characters, but for the life of me I couldn’t master a simple gingerbread house.
But this gingerbread has a really useful texture. It’s moldable, like a grainier version of modeling chocolate, and just sticky enough to give it staying power. So I cut my squares into little bricks and began stacking a foundation. A few graham crackers and some royal icing later, I had my first (semi) successful gingerbread house.
Now I should mention that the bright idea to do this came to me a little after midnight, and I didn’t do a lot of structural planning and got sloppy by the end. Still, this is the best I’ve ever done. I’m confident that when I try this again next year, I’ll be able to make something pretty awesome.
So I’ll give this recipe a C- for taste, but an A++ for gingerbread house potential.