Gingerbread is a sweet pastry with spices that give it its name. Russian gingerbread cakes are famous not just for their taste and aroma, but also for their attractive appearance. They usually are stamped or painted with colored glaze designs, so they are perfect as gifts for memorable events.
The history of gingerbread goes back to the distant past. Its predecessors were already known in the first millennium B.C. In Russia, gingerbread appeared in the 9th century A.D. In those days, gingerbread was called “honey bread”, because honey was the main ingredient of the dough and determined the taste and smell of the cake. Later, they began to add herbs and spices into the gingerbread dough, and when Russia established trade relations with the Eastern countries, gingerbread acquired the aroma of ginger, peppermint, clove, nutmeg and other spices, and became justly known as “gingerbread”. Such Russian cities as Tula, Tver, Novgorod, Pokrov, Gorodets, and Ryazan were especially famous for their gingerbread making. Tula gingerbread makers were the first to add fruit filling in gingerbread, and that made the product even more popular. In the 19th century, Tula gingerbread stores were opened in some European capitals.
Making stamped gingerbread cakes is an art. First, the dough is made from rye flour, honey, eggs, water and spices. The dough is cut into pieces, rolled out, and each piece is put on a special board with a carved pattern, so that the dough fills all the depressions on the board. Then, the first layer of the dough is covered with a second one with a filling in between, and the edges are pressed together. The cake is turned over so that the stamped image is on top and the surface is glazed with sugar syrup, which sets off the picture and makes it more visible after baking. Each carved board is used to create just one design for gingerbread, and a new design calls for a new board. In the past, gingerbread boards were made by craftsmen, and nowadays, new desings are created mostly by professional artists. Fillings for gingerbread have also changed over time. In earlier days they were made of fruit jam, but now the most popular filling is made of boiled condensed milk and nuts.
Gingerbread is a traditional dessert, without which it is impossible to imagine a Russian tea ceremony. There is no other country where there are so many different kinds and such high quality of gingerbread, as in Russia. Try classic Russian gingerbreads offered at RussianFoodUSA.com and you will love them. Tender, delicious and aromatic, Russian gingerbread is a true delight.