This is an article from my previous blog hyperbrain.me that I’ve decided to move to this domain.
In Sweden the 9th of December is the gingerbread day (pepparkakans dag) so if you wish to celebrate that, here is a good recipe to get started. This idea was create a few years ago by Annas, one of the largest manufacturers of gingerbread in Sweden. Apparently they’re making a limited edition pepparkaka with winter apple flavor this year. Sounds interesting, but today’s recipe is in an older and more traditional style.
How old gingerbread actually is nobody really seems to know. There are some sources claiming that gingerbread was made already in Mesopotamia around 3800 years ago. Others refer to the Romans carrying ginger spiced bread with them and others say that the first known recipe of gingerbread was written down in Greece around 2400 BC.
Some medieval gingerbread was quite different from how we understand it today. Some of the recipes didn’t even contain ginger…(My suspicion is actually that ginger was one of the spices included in what was called ”pepper” at the time – the word was applied to almost anything strong and spicy.)
The type of gingerbread cookies we eat today (also known as Lebkuchen) appear to have been invented in the 13th century by monks in Franconia, Germany. Already quite early the bakers started making gingerbread in elaborate shapes and with decorations, a tradition that remains until today.
The recipe for today is quite similar to some examples I found of 16th century gingerbread. I’m not sure why the name ”spicy glögg gingerbread” was chosen for it. It might be because they contain the same spices as glögg or maybe it’s because they are great to eat while you’re drinking glögg (mulled wine). The original recipe says doesn’t explain it further. What I do know is that they are really delicious with their strong spiced flavor. This is how gingerbread should taste!
Spicy glögg gingerbread
Baking time including preparation: 9-10 minutes in the oven for each batch. The dough has to be prepared one day in advance. Expect it to take some hours in total.
Portions: A ton of small cookies/Enough pieces for two gingerbread houses + some cookies. (Equivalent of at least 3 packs of ready made gingerbread dough.)
- 4 1/2 dl dark syrup (molasses)
- 300 g room tempered butter
- 4 1/2 dl sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tsp ground cloves
- 6 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tsp ground ginger (dried)
- 4 tsp ground cardamom
- 13-15 dl wheat flour
Boil the syrup in a pan for three minutes while stirring.
Pour it in a large metal or ceramic bowl, add the butter, the sugar and the spices and mix them together. Add the egg. Work in most of the flour.
Work the dough out on a bench until it is possible to roll it into smooth chunks that you wrap up in plastic or leave covered with a cloth on a baking tray.
Allow the dough to rest over night in the fridge or in room temperature if you will bake in the morning.
Time to start baking. Take out the dough from the fridge an hour in advance to make it a bit softer and easier to handle. Turn on your oven at 175°C.
Start rolling out your dough in small sections until it’s 3-4 mm thick. Cut it out with pastry cutters or cut shapes freely with a knife.
If you wish to make a gingerbread house, roll out the dough directly on baking paper and make it a bit thicker, ca 4-5 mm. You can find a good template for a small gingerbread cabin here.
Bake the cookies for approximately 9 minutes (gingerbread house parts 1-2 minutes longer) in the middle of the oven.
Small warning: I call these cookies ”jaw-breaker gingerbread” since they don’t take any baking powder/bicarbonate like you would find in most recipes. They are hard and crunchy, but really delicious! (Whoever said that bought gingerbread is tastier and that it’s a waste of time to bake your own hasn’t tried these ones!) If you want the more common crispy version, adding 1 tsp of baking powder or bicarbonate when making the dough should do the trick.
Since the end result is this hard it makes this recipe perfect for baking a gingerbread house using this recipe. It may seem like a waste of precious spices, but it pays off in spreading a lovely smell in the whole house.
Decorate your cookies/house with icing if you want. Take 3-4 dl of icing sugar and mix it with one whipped up egg white + add 1 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar essence.
Hope you enjoy them and make a bunch to give away to friends and family.
Here is the original recipe: