National Gingerbread Day


June 5 is National Gingerbread Day, according to several sources, although it seems an equal number of sources also celebrate this holiday on Nov. 21. Since gingerbread has been around for centuries, and has even been featured in fairy tales (who could ever forget the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel?), it deserves to have two holidays, so go ahead and celebrate both.

The origins of gingerbread go back at least as far as 2000 B.C. when wealthy Greek families are said to have sailed to the Isle of Rhodes to buy “spiced honey cakes.” There are accounts of ancient Egyptians and Romans also using spiced honey cakes at ceremonies and gatherings. France was introduced to gingerbread when a monk from Armenia, Gregory Makar, moved to France in 992 and taught French priests to make it.

The first time gingerbread was shaped into men is said to have been done by Queen Elizabeth I, who presented gingerbread men as gifts to dignitaries visiting England during her reign. We’re guessing Her Royal Highness did not bake them herself, but that the job was delegated to her royal bakers.

Here is a recipe for Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread from the Smitten Kitchen’s website.


Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Accompaniment: Unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and tap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, with whipped cream.

Photo by Claudia Fleming

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