Gingerbread became popular in Europe after it was introduced there in 992 by an Armenian monk.
It also had a stint as a digestive aid in the 13th century, often sold in drug stores and monasteries. Though today, we think of gingerbread in more of a cookie-type form, the original was more of a bread or cake. Many other countries around the world, however, have their own variations and names for this molasses-based treat.
Gingerbread houses came into popularity, especially in North America, with the introduction of Hansel and Gretel, by the Grimm brothers. The witch’s house in the story is the basis for the structures, dripping with candies and icing. Building and decorating these houses has become a family tradition in many homes, as well. Even in America, gingerbread has recipe tweaks from region to region, representing the availability of specific ingredients that are prevalent in each.
Here are some ways for you to explore and enjoy gingerbread houses this season:
- Wilton’s gingerbread resource page – Whether you’re looking to make cookies or houses, this is a great place to start. Find recipes, house design ideas, and more.
- National Gingerbread House Competition – Every year at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, a winner is crowned for the best edible house in the land.
- Mid-century modern gingerbread homes – This collection of houses is good for those who like cleaner lines and a little vintage edge to their buildings.
- Gingerbread House Maker iPhone app – If you really could care less about getting knee-deep in cookies and candies, you can digitially decorate your little masterpiece on your phone.
- Edible gingerbread playhouse – For the kid or adult who has everything, still wants a gingerbread house – not to mention, one they can walk into – but would rather someone else make it, this is for you: a 6.6-foot high structure made by the folks at Dylan’s Candy Bar… for $15,000 in pocket change.