Highlighting facts behind historical fiction with Jude Knight and the Gingerbread Bride
The term Gingerbread is now used to mean any sweet treat that uses ginger with one or more of honey, molasses, or treacle. It can refer to shapes or edible houses made of cookie dough with those ingredients, or more cake-like loaves.
Whatever, its form, it is, for many, part of the taste of Christmas. Gingerbread houses, stars, trees, and reindeer, iced or decorated with sweeties or dried fruit, are part of my memories of childhood Christmases, and I’ve continued the tradition with my children and now with grandchildren.
The first known recipe for flat hard cookies flavoured with ginger comes from Greece four and half thousand years ago. The Egyptians also made such cookies. The Chinese had their own recipes in the 10th century; the Persians as early as the 7th century. The treat spread into Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain.
In England, since late medieval times, the cookies have been fairground food, with their shapes changing with the season. They used to be made with stale breadcrumbs, ground amount, rosewater, sugar and ginger, and pressed into wooden molds, but in the 16th century, the English replaced the breadcumbs with flour.
One source has it that Queen Elizabeth was responsible for popularising the idea of making the cookies into the shapes of animals, kings, and queens, and having them decorated. She apparently presented visiting dignitaries with a cookie cut to their own likeness.
One popular decoration was gold leaf, or gilding, from whence we get our expression “to take the gilt off the gingerbread”. At fairs, gingerbread would be tied with a ribbon, and giving them to someone you admired was an expression of love.
The Germans are credited with the first gingerbread houses, but it isn’t clear whether the story of Hansel and Gretel invented the concept or used an already existing tradition.
About the Novella: Gingerbread Bride
Traveling with her father’s fleet has not prepared Mary Pritchard for London. When she strikes out on her own, she finds adventure, trouble, and her girlhood hero, riding once more to her rescue.
Lieutenant Rick Redepenning has been saving his admiral’s intrepid daughter from danger since their formative years, but today, he faces the gravest of threats–the damage she might do to his heart. How can he convince her to see him as a suitor, not just a childhood friend?
Travelling with her father’s fleet has left Mary Pritchard ill-prepared for London Society, and prey to the machinations of false friends. When she strikes out on her own to find a more suitable locale to take up her solitary spinsterhood, she finds adventure, trouble, and her girlhood hero, riding once more to her rescue.
Gingerbread Bride is one of four novellas in Holiday Escapes, a Bluestocking Belles collection. See the Bluestocking Belles project page for more information about the novellas and two bonus short stories, plus buy links: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/holiday-escapes/
About the Authors
Jude Knight, New Zealand author of heartfelt, emotionally rich historical Romance, is a proud member of The Bluestocking Belles, a group of very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.