It is already the second time that the GNM will be wishing Merry Christmas from Bergen and through the Internet space of the Medieval Sai Project (https://medievalsaiproject.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/merry-christmas/).
And Bergen, the residence of the GNM, has already completed its second decade as the home of the largest ginger-biscuit town in the world: pepperkakebyen!
In the northern parts of the European continent, as well as in the U.S.A., people associate winter in general and Christmas in particular with the smell and taste of products baked with ginger: softer and thicker as cakes elsewhere, thinner and harder as biscuits in Scandinavia.
And as a second main characteristic of the original recipe: the use of honey or molasses instead of sugar. This perhaps indicates their long history, and here is a very short version of it: pepperkaker as the Norwegians call them [στα ελληνικά θα λέγαμε μπισκότα από πιπερόριζα] were also used to decorate the windows of houses before they started being formed into miniature houses – made out of ginger biscuits! The idea must also be linked with the witch’s house in the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel recorded by the Brothers Grimm.
There follows a recipe for whoever happens not to know it and is interested into trying it, which includes, however, the use of sugar:
2 dl sugar
1,5 dl syrup
1 teaspoon ginger
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon clove
Heat these ingredients in a pan while stirring until boiling. Remove from the heat and add:
1 teaspoon baking soda
150 gr smelted butter (of milk)
Finally, add 500 gr wheat flour.
Mix all the ingredients to a sticky paste.
Place in the refrigerator over the night.
The next day, cut out of the paste all sorts of figures – your fantasy sets the limit!
Bake in the oven at 200 degrees C for 8-10 minutes.
The biscuits are ready when they get a dark brown colour.
So, imagine (almost) the entire population of Bergen contributing with such small ginger houses at a venue that has become a major Christmas attraction for visitors of the city in those days!
The GNM did not wish to ruin the tradition and as a token of participation to pepperkakebyen but also of commemoration of our work on Sai, we came up with the idea of pepperkakekatedralen!!!
Merry Christmas to You all :-)