|1 qt. honey||2 doz. threads saffron, ground in mortar|
|1/2 - 1 tsp ground ginger||1/2 - 1 tsp ground black (or long) pepper|
|1/8 tsp ground cloves||1/2 tsp ground anise|
|~18 oz. plain bread crumbs||some ground cinnamon|
Heat the honey gradually over medium-low heat until it begins to boil.
Add the saffron, ginger, cloves, anise and pepper, and stir in thoroughly. Remove
from heat. Gradually add bread crumbs until the mixture is getting
quite stiff -- you should be able to stir it into strange shapes, and it
should flow little or not at all. Stop when it gets to this point -- the amount of bread crumbs is an approximation.
This started as a very loose interpretation of the Harleian original, below. That
actually call for ginger, but I like to have ginger in my
It calls for "Box leaves" to be placed on top; I originally didn't know what those
are, but they turn out to be a thoroughly unappetizing plant. And it calls for the gingerbread to be stuck with whole
but that's a little dangerous when serving to a large crowd, since
might not know to remove the cloves, so I put a little clove into the
mix. The serving suggestion of diamond-shaped bars, and the
addition of anise to the mix, both come from Hugh Plat's 17th-century
gingerbread recipe; that's a rather different recipe, but the
hybridizing seems to work well.
After the May Day reconstruction, Marian pointed me at the Sloane description below. That notably does not call for box leaves; instead, it calls to put it in
a box, or perhaps to make it box-shaped -- that is, square the
edges. Her interpretation is that the later sources got confused,
and I'm happy to go with that. Note that it also explicitly calls
for long pepper, rather than black; as of this writing, I haven't tried
that yet, but plan on doing so next time. Also, it specifically
says to add saunders (sandalwood) as a coloring agent, which is
optional in Harleian; I should try that next time. It does not
call for saffron, which at most contribute a fairly subtle edge to the
flavor. Finally, this version does explicitly call for ginger,
which is comforting, since it seems like it should be there.
Reconstructed for the potluck at Falling Leaves '02. Modified heavily for the dessert board at May Day '05.
.iiij. Gyngerbrede. -- Take a quart of hony, &
sethe it, & skeme it clene; take Safrounm pouder Pepir, & throw
ther-on; take gratyd Brede, & make it so chargeaunt that it wol be
y-lechyd; then take pouder Canelle, & threw ther-on y-now; then make
yt square, lyke as thou wolt leche yt; take when you lechyst hyt, an caste
Box leves a-bouyn, y-stykyd the-on, on clowys. And if thou wolt have it
Red, coloure it with Saunderys y-now.
From Sloane 121. Transcription of the original can be found in Curye on Inglish (Hieatt and Butler, ed), pg. 154. Original:
19 To make
gingerbrede. Take goode honye & clarefie it on the fere,
& take fayre paynemayn or wastrel brede & grate it, & caste
it into the boylenge honey, & stere it well togyder faste with a
sklyse that it tren not to the vessell. & thanne take it down
and put therein ginger, longe pepere & saundres, & tempere it
up with thin handes; & than put hem to a flatt boyste & strawe
theron suger, & pick therin clowes rounde aboute by the egge and in
the mydes, yf it plece you, &c.