This book is rather old, so I wasn’t sure where to put it outside of the Nostalgia category. I found it while sorting through some things I had packed away and I’m not quite sure where it came from. I had at first considered donating it. After reading through it, I realized it was actually a pretty awesome find that is a great addition to a cook’s library, despite it’s first impression.
At first glance, The Gingerbread Book seems to be mostly dated old pictures. It’s copyrighted to 1984 and the overall vibe of the book reflects that. In fact, they sell used copies on Amazon for anywhere from $6 and up. But, sprinkled throughout the book are some unexpected treasures.
The book takes gingerbread throughout the year, incorporating historical references as it goes. For example, there is a brief overview on the art of psanky which is incorporated into a gingerbread egg. Detailed instructions on how to create one are included.
There is a discussion on creating a haunted gingerbread house (long before it was done on the Cooking Channel) complete with creating stained glass windows and creating floating white ghosts. All major holidays are represented.
To my delight, in the back of the book was a description of medieval gingerbread plaques with pictures! These plaques were also used for another type of cookie called springerle which has a similar texture to gingerbread, but is flavored with anise.
Mr. Bragdon also covers candy and cookie cutter inspiration over several pages in the back.
The other reason I loved the book was it has some wonderful historical and regional recipes that are super fun to try.
While the gingerbread houses in the book aren’t “cutting edge,” there’s a good variety represented which serve as great inspiration and a lot of information that is still relevant and useful. Overall the book is just a great reference book to keep in your collection.