Yule is approaching, so I thought that I’d share some stuff about gingerbread for you fantasy writers that include culinary stuff in your works.

Ginger originally came from Indonesia and Malaysia. It appeared in Greek recipes dating back to 2000 BCE.  Gingerbread first appeared around the 11th century CE.  Actually, gingerbread was the term used to describe preserved ginger in the Middle Ages.  The name is derived from the Old French gingebras, which in turn came from the Latin name for ginger:  Zingebar.  By the 15th century, the term gingerbread was used to describe the cookies and cakes that we now describe with that term.  In Germany it is known as Lebkuchen.  Gingerbread was originally a sweet bread made with sugar and spices and then baked again.  More modern recipes include treacle or molasses and butter.


Gingerbread has been associated to Yule for centuries.  Modern gingerbread is the direct descendant of the flat, hard (and often gilded) gingerbread usually made for fairs and festivals in ancient times.  Nowadays it often takes the form of Gingerbread Men (or Gingerbread Husbands, as they are called in some places). Within Britain there were regional variations, such as Lincoln ginger biscuits, Cornish Fairings and Devonshire Widecombe Fair Gingerbread.  For the Lughnasad Sabbat I often make gingerbread men, decorated as the Green Man to represent John Barleycorn, the life of the fields.  Our recipe for ginger snaps is derived from old Cornish Fairings recipes.  Cornish fairings are an old variety of gingerbread which was sold at fairs and markets.  The recipe for this gingerbread is as follows:

Gingerbread/Ginger Snaps:

2 cups (8 oz) all purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoons allspice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cardamom

½  teaspoon baking soda

½  teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (4 oz) butter or shortening

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup (8 tablespoons) golden syrup or treacle

1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl.  Rub butter into the flour mixture.  Stir in the sugar.  Warm the treacle/golden syrup and pour the liquid syrup into the flour mixture.  Work this in to the mixture well to form a soft dough. Dust your hands with flour and roll the dough out on a floured surface to ¼ inch thickness and cut into shapes.  Place on a greased baking tin or a baking tin lined with parchment paper.  Alternatively:  Shape dough into balls about the size of a walnut, place on a greased baking tin or a baking tin lined with parchment paper.  Press the balls flat with your hand or a fork.  Bake until it appears firm and dry, about 9 minutes. 

NOTE:  If you want to make ginger snaps rather than gingerbread, add more sugar (1 ¾ cups (11 oz)) and omit the egg.  This makes about 36 – 48 snaps, depending on which size you make them.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. 

Regards, Charles


About cuhulain

Kerr Cuhulain has been a Wiccan for 49 years and has been involved in anti-defamation activism and hate crimes investigation for the Pagan community from 1986 to 2005. Kerr was awarded the Shield of Valor by the Witches League for Public Awareness. Kerr is the author of the Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca, Witch Hunts, Wiccan Warrior, Full Contact Magick and Magickal Self Defense. Kerr has a column with 182 articles on anti-defamation issues and hate crimes on The Witches’ Voice web site called Witch Hunts. Kerr is the former Preceptor General of Officers of Avalon, an organization representing Neo-Pagan professionals in the emergency services (police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians). Kerr retired from the Vancouver Police Department in November 2005 after serving 29 years with them. He was awarded the Governor General’s Exemplary Service Medal. Kerr's past job assignments within the VPD include the Emergency Response Team, Hostage Negotiator, Child Abuse Investigator, Gang Crime Unit, and the Mental Health Emergency Services Unit. Kerr went on to be a police dispatcher and trainer for ECOMM for Southwestern BC. Kerr retired from law enforcement work in April 2013. Kerr is the founder of a Wiccan order of Knighthood called the Order of Paladins in November 2007. The Order embraces the Warrior philosophies, precepts and code of chivalry outlined in Kerr’s books. The Order of Paladins is a study group for people interested in Wiccan magick, energy work and rituals related to the Warrior path, focusing on empowerment, personal development and creative expression. The training focuses on the effective use of magickal energy and developing psychic skills. Courses are taught on line through the Ardantane School of Magick, where Kerr is on faculty. The Order of Paladins is constantly developing new rituals, and magick and studying our Warrior philosophy. Our members are spread across the globe and connect through local preceptories and on line. All members are expected to participate and contribute. Kerr is now the National Secretary of the Royal Astrononomical Society of Canada.
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