Over centuries, holiday baking has evolved into many shapes and figures other than circular, disc shaped biscuits, cakes, or breads. More specifically, many baked goods made for the Christmas season take our intrinsic David Shape (head, torso, arms, and legs) to another level in the baking oven.
The Gingerbread Man
This classic biscuit is probably the most popular and recognisable man in the whole world, after Brad Pitt that is! A cookie made of gingerbread and shaped as a short, chubby human it it is often decorated with drops of coloured icing. In its most “original” form, the Gingerbread Man is a crispy ginger and honey biscuit formed or cut out into a humanoid shape with rounded arms and legs. To make their appearance more lifelike, some Gingerbread Men have sleeves, shorts, t-shirts, or neckties painted on them with icing. Sometime during the 16th century, foreign dignitaries were the first to have Gingerbread Men bestowed upon them as a gift. In England, Queen Elizabeth I used to have her bakers mold gingerbread dough into figures resembling her distinguished guests! The gingerbread man is a favourite among home bakers as is an easy project to tackle with kids during the Christmas break.
In Switzerland, a Grittibänz is a specialty baked from sweet white bread dough during Advent Season leading up to Christmas. On Christmas day, the strangely shaped bread it is handed out to friends and family. The tradition can be traced back to the middle ages when Swiss children were either given a horn-shaped bread roll or a woman-shaped one. Over the years the woman became a man and became known as Grittibänz. The name Grittibänz comes from the old Swiss-German word ‘Gritte’, meaning bow-legged and ‘Bänz’, a shortened form of the name Benedict, which also came to refer to ‘a man’. The dough is roughly formed into the shape of a person with raisins or nuts for eyes and buttons and sometimes decorated with coarse sugar. The “male” figure in the batch is meant to represent St. Nicholas (Santa Claus), who is honoured on the 6th of December. Grittibänz takes innumerable human-like shapes and usually measures 20-30cms long.
Yobdar Bakri owns and runs Deliciousness bakery which specialises in Swiss homemade gourmet cookies.
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