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.
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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 wine.
A gingerbread is used to build gingerbread houses similar to 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 guardians.
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 molds 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.
The lesser known bread form tends to be a dense, treaclely (molasses-based) spice bread. Some recipes add mustard, pepper, raisins, nuts, and/or other spices/ingredients to the batter. In one variation, the bread omits raisins or nuts and is served with warm lemon sauce. In the United States, the bread is more often served in the winter, particularly at Christmas time. Parkin is a form of ginger bread usually made with oatmeal and treacle which is popular in the North of England. It is traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night.
Gingerbreads are known in Russia. Most famous gingerbreads are baked in the ancient cities Tula (Tula gingerbread), Vyazma, Gorodets.