AskDefine | Define gingerbread

Dictionary Definition

gingerbread n : cake flavored with ginger

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative forms


From gingembras, gingimbrat, preserved ginger, from medieval Latin *gingi(m)br?t-um, (ginger that perhaps had a pharmaceutical use for some medicinal preparation), from medieval Latin gingiber, ginger. The third syllable was early confounded with bread, and the insertion of an r in the second syllable completed the semblance of a compound word.


  1. A type of cake whose main flavouring is ginger and that is typically cut into human-shaped pieces called gingerbread men or built into house-shaped cakes called gingerbread houses.
  2. A flamboyant Victorian-era architectural style.
type of cake
architectural style

Extensive Definition

''For other uses of the word "gingerbread", see Gingerbread (disambiguation)
Gingerbread is a sweet that can take the form of a cake or a cookie in which the predominant flavors are ginger and raw sugar.
As a cookie, gingerbread can be made into a thin, crisp cookie (often called a ginger snap) or a softer cookie similar to the German Lebkuchen. Gingerbread cookies are often cut into shapes, particularly gingerbread men. Traditionally it was dunked in port. The first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made earlier as ginger was stocked in high street businesses from the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 1700s.
A variant dough is used to build gingerbread houses à la the "witch's house" encountered by Hansel and Gretel. These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations, typically built by children with the help of their parents.
Another variant uses a boiled dough that can be molded like clay to form inedible statuettes or other decorations. A significant form of popular art in Europe, major centers of gingerbread mould carving included Lyon, Nürnberg, Pest, Prague, Pardubice, Pulsnitz, Ulm, and Toruń. Gingerbread moulds often displayed the "news", showing carved portraits of new kings, emperors, and queens, for example. Substantial mould collections are held at the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń, Poland and the Bread Museum in Ulm, Germany.
Gingerbread was brought to Europe by the Crusaders.
The cake form tends to be a dense, treaclely (molasses-based) spice cake. Some recipes add mustard, pepper, raisins, nuts, and/or other spices/ingredients to the batter. In one variation, the cake omits raisins or nuts and is served with warm lemon sauce. In the United States, the cake is more often served in the winter, particularly at Christmastime.
Originally, the term gingerbread (from Latin zingiber via Old French gingebras) referred to preserved ginger, then to a confection made with honey and spices.
Gingerbread is often translated into French as pain d'épices (literally bread of spices). Pain d'épices is a French pastry also made with honey and spices, but not crispy.
The town of Market Drayton in Shropshire is known as the "home of gingerbread" and this is proudly decreed on the welcome sign.


See also

gingerbread in Belarusian: Пернік
gingerbread in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Пернік
gingerbread in Czech: Perník
gingerbread in Danish: Peberkage
gingerbread in German: Lebkuchen
gingerbread in Estonian: Präänik
gingerbread in Spanish: Pan de jengibre
gingerbread in Esperanto: Spickuko
gingerbread in French: Pain d'épices
gingerbread in Korean: 생강빵
gingerbread in Hebrew: לחם זנגביל
gingerbread in Dutch: Peperkoek
gingerbread in Japanese: レープクーヘン
gingerbread in Norwegian: Pepperkake
gingerbread in Polish: Piernik
gingerbread in Portuguese: Lebkuchen
gingerbread in Russian: Пряник
gingerbread in Scots: Gibbery
gingerbread in Slovak: Medovník
gingerbread in Slovenian: Lect
gingerbread in Finnish: Piparkakku
gingerbread in Swedish: Pepparkakor
gingerbread in Thai: ขนมปังขิง
gingerbread in Vlaams: Zoetekoeke
gingerbread in Chinese: 德式薑餅

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Boston cream pie, angel cake, angel food cake, baked Alaska, bedizenment, bravery, cake, cheesecake, chiffon, chocolate cake, clinquant, coffee cake, cupcake, duplication, duplication of effort, embellishment, expletive, extravagance, fat, featherbedding, festoons, filling, finery, folderol, foofaraw, frill, frilliness, frilling, frills, frills and furbelows, frippery, froufrou, fruitcake, fuss, gaiety, gaudery, genoise, gilding, gilt, honey cake, jelly roll, jumble, layer cake, luxury, marble cake, needlessness, ornamentation, overadornment, overlap, padding, paste, payroll padding, pinchbeck, pleonasm, pound cake, prolixity, redundance, redundancy, savarin, shortcake, spice cake, sponge cake, superfluity, superfluousness, tautology, tea cake, tinsel, trappings, trickery, trumpery, unnecessariness, verbosity, white cake, yellow cake
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