Every Russian had a chance to enjoy the taste of Tula gingerbread at least once in their life. And it is adored by the children! Perhaps, they are attracted by its painted patterns or by the pictures put on the delicious rectangular form liberally sugar coated and secretly hiding inside a filling of jam or condensed milk.
Tula gingerbread — the story of its origin
According to the chronicles, the Tula gingerbread “was born” 300 years ago, since people learned how to bake. In the 17th century people in Tula lived poorly, everyone earned as best as they could, some did crafts, others traded, and among various goods there were gingerbreads.
That time there were many masters of gingerbread bakery. Every master had his own unique recipe kept as a big secret and passed by inheritance through the male line. The makers never wrote down their recipes, they were afraid of “spies”, when mixing the needed ingredients they used small pebbles to weigh, each pebble was equal to the weight of each ingredient.
Famous masters of gingerbread bakery
In XIX dynasties knowing all the subtleties of the gingerbread skill started in Tula. Among them there were Grechikhin brothers, M.G. Belolipetsky, P.I. Kozlov. Every year the bakers demonstrated their talents at various fairs both in Russia and abroad. The assortment was very diverse and they differed not only by the name but also by the form.
Whatever taste Tula gingerbread had, all of them were mandatory pressed and printed in forms. Those forms were cut off out of birch or pear trees. The small planks “aged” for 5 to 20 years. After they completely dried patterns or drawings were printed on them in mirror image. Dough and fillings were put in these forms, the edges were folded rectangular and then baked. The text that named a historical event or date has always been printed on the gingerbread.
Symbolism of gingerbreads
Our forefathers in Russia associated gingerbread to many traditions, customs and ceremonies. A special gingerbread was baked for any special event. For example, there were a lot of goodness and nuts and fruit put inside the wedding gingerbread. When such gingerbread was given to the newlyweds various embellishments were told to them wishing them well-being in family life. The very symbolism of the gingerbread was of great interest. For example, “Gingerbread – heart” was a symbol of sympathy, arisen feeling of love, affection and generality. Gingerbread – deer” was a symbol of masculine power and dignity, and was presented to the youth.
Nowadays, the Tula bakery traditions are carried out by the baker’s confectioners working at the local bakery named “Yasnaya polyana”. This factory not only preserves and multiplies traditions but improves technology to produce these goodies. Despite the fact that sugar replaced honey in many gingerbread recipes, they did not follow this trend at the factory. Until this day the main ingredients are honey, flour and milk. Honey rich in enzyme help keep fresh for a long time and to give fragrance and special taste to a gingerbread.
In 1996 a museum of Tula gingerbread was opened . Various gingerbread plates, once belonged to great bakers, Grechikhin, Belolipetsky, Kozlov, Serikov, nowadays are laid out on the racks of the museum. You may also get acquainted with the objects of everyday life and work of the bakers and look at the interesting photos. A great interest among the visitors are the gingerbreads themselves – you can see the biggest of the existing ones, as well as the smallest one in Russia. All exhibits are happily placed only in two rooms. The visitors are offered to try gingerbread baked just now and to have a pleasant conversation with a cup of tea.