Ever heard of British Gingerbread? It is a cake flavored with ginger and treacle. The French equivalent (pain d’epice), whose name means literally “spice bread”, is a cake with a basis of flour, honey and spices. Gingerbread was formerly regarded primarily as a fairground delicacy. Although it is mainly eaten at teatime or at festivals (particularly in Belgium and Germany). Gingerbread (French or English varieties) can easily be made at home. The best results for pain d’epice are achieved with a strong-flavored honey, such as buck-wheat or heather honey. Wheat flour is generally used (sometimes mixed with rye flour); flavorings can include orange flower water, ginger, orange or lemon zest, star anise or cinnamon, or a mixture of spices. For both kinds, orange or apricot marmalade may also be added to the mixture. After baking, the top of the cake may be decorated with pieces of angelica, green walnuts, or candied orange peel. For more information and for recipes visit British Gingerbread.
The German Christmas Markets are famous worldwide- every city and town hosts a Christmas market, whether large or small and Germany is transformed into one giant Christmas market where you can buy Christmas gifts and treasures to your heart’s delight. The markets give the cities a holiday atmosphere for the month leading up to Christmas, leaving the cities feeling empty and lonely after a month of bright lights and the mixed smells of Gingerbread, chocolate, Gluhwein and grilled sausages.
The traditions of the Christmas markets date back to the middle ages and turn German towns and cities into festive fairy tale type scenes. Christmas markets are held during the four weeks of Advent and include booths and stalls set up in town centers around Germany, along with plenty of great Christmas decorations and entertainment. Huge Christmas trees are erected and the shops sell Christmas decorations, ornaments, wooden toys, nutcrackers, figurines, gifts, clothing, candles, foods, local arts and crafts and a lot more.
Bands and choral groups entertain shoppers with favorite Christmas carols and hymns. You can buy fresh gingerbread, or a whole gingerbread house, delight in the smells of mulled wine, spices and roasted chestnuts and almonds and sausages as well as a wide array of other foods and drinks.
Each German Christmas Market has its own personality but regardless of which one you go to you are sure to find plenty of Christmas treasures to bring home as well as be able to revel in the Christmas atmosphere that Germany offers.
So, if you have the opportunity to travel to one Germany’s Christmas markets, enjoy the experience and all the sights and sounds you will take in and especially the Gingerbread!