"Lebkuchen" or Gingerbread
Old German documents mentioned it about 600 years ago and Gingerbread on wafers (or Oblaten) was first mentioned 1395 in Frankonia. The name possibly stems from the Middle High German or from the Latin ‘libum’ which denotes a flat cake.
As do the wafers, used for the host during services, honey cakes and wafer gingerbread most likely originated in the monasteries. The flour and starch wafer is edible without a distinctive taste of its own. It holds together the Lebkuchen mass, which contains very little flour to bind it.
To make the many candles they needed in the monasteries, the brothers cultivated fruit trees and kept bees for the wax. By spreading the dough, made with honey, on wafers, they produced a nourishing and healthy food item. It served well on journeys and was brought to the infirm and the sick. The most famous among the monasteries at the time were Einsiedeln and St. Gallen in Switzerland. It is from Einsiedeln that Indiana’s St. Meinrad Arch Abbey was founded and the brothers may have been among those who brought the Gingerbread recipe with them to southern Indiana around 1814.
Gingerbread soon became a favourite outside the monasteries. Toward the end of the Middle Ages, Nuremberg (Nürnberg) was an important international trade centre, so there was no shortage of the required raw materials needed for the ever more popular gingerbread such as candied fruits, hazelnuts and spices. Honey, also indispensable, was obtained from the huge forest, circling the town. The "Lebküchner," producers of spiced honey cookies, began to organize their own guild "Wachszieher und Lebzelter" (candlemaker and gingerbread maker). They made beautiful decorated candles and many varieties if gingerbread known as "Honigkuchen, Pfefferkuchen, Lebkuchen, Pfefferzelten, Lebzelten, and Pfeffernüsse." Thus Nuremberg became the famous "Lebkuchen" town as their gingerbread found fanciers all over Europe.
Gingerbread hearts are offered year round at German fairs and festivals. Hung with a string around one’s neck they declare ‘I love you’ or something similar. To this day "Lebkuchen" are exported from Nuremberg to North America especially for the Christmas Season. The taste of them has spread beyond persons of German origin, like so many other typical German and Austrian baked goods.
Other uses for gingerbread are little houses – as immortalized in the Grimm’s fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel – made in various shapes and sizes which have become a favourite of young and old alike. They have become part of the Holiday Season and competitions abound.
For over 70 years "Lebkuchen Schmidt" from Nuremberg has been providing some of the best gingerbread ever, plus the choicest cookies and related specialties.
The company’s logo, the red heart with the castle on top, and the name of Schmidt, has become a guarantee of quality. It characterizes products made that ensure exceptional quality and are highly recommended worldwide.
The "total fresh guarantee seal" ensures that all of their products are dispatched oven-fresh and will keep that way even for the long trips overseas.
The packaging is also designed with loving attention to detail to ensure the consumer enjoys giving them as presents that are not only tasty but also very attractive.
"Gingerbread World" has made it possible for consumers in the US and Canada to obtain those delicious products. You can contact them at www.gingerbread-world.com
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