The first attempt at making period gingerbread was an interesting experiment. Either I made the recipe correctly and created a wonderful ginger flavored hard tack, that requires a chisel, hammer and a dentist to eat. OR it was a monumental failure on multiple levels. I followed a recipe redaction of Lebkuchen (German gingerbread). There are a couple of different “flavors” of redactions for the same recipe. So I went with one that made the most logical sense.
In following the recipe, I noticed right away that the liquid to dry ratio seemed “off”. There was 1/2 cup of honey to 2 cups of flour. So the mixture was going to be very dry and crumbly. In fact it didn’t even hold together in the mixing process.
The second thing that seemed off is the amount of cooking time for the honey and sugar. “Let boil a long time, until bubbles are clear after honey is stirred.” Once a upon a time, the honey needed to be purified. Today’s honey is so filtered, it isn’t “dirty”, and the boiling may actually be causing some interesting chemical changes to the sugars. By boiling the honey for a long time, then what we are creating is honey candy. Adding sugar to the candy mixture just increases the candy consistancy. It actually got to the soft ball state of temperature.
As predicted, I ended up with a hot sticky dough, that didnt hold together well, and behaved like a soft ball candy. When baked, it did not spread, and was the same size going into the oven as it was coming out. I ended up with a thick heavy cookie shaped object that was very hard, and very dry.
I think I will need to actually sit down and translate this recipe and try a different redaction. But I predict that I am still going to end up with candy product that is blended with flour.