Ginger Bread

Unlike the cake like modern Ginger Bread, this recipe is more like a ginger candy made with bread crumbs.

Source: Harleian MS. 279, ab 1420 A.D. (from Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books)


Original recipe:

Gyngerbrede. Take a quart of hony & sethe it, & skeme it clene; take Safroun, pouder Pepir, & þrow þer-on; take gratyd Brede, & make it so chargeaunt þat it wol be y-lechyd; þen take pouder Canelle, & straw þer-on y-now; þen make yt  square, lyke as þou wolt leche yt; take when þou lechyst hyt, an caste Box leves a-bouyn, y-stykyd þer-on, on clowys. And ȝif þou wolt haue it Red, coloure it with Saunderys y-now.

My Translation:

Gingerbread. Take a quart of honey and boil it and skim it clean; take Saffron, ground black pepper and throw thereon; take grated bread and make it so thick that it would be sliced; then take powdered Cinnamon and strew thereon enough; then make it square, like as you would slice it; take when you slice it and cast Box leaves above, stick thereon cloves. And if you would have it red, color it with Sandalwood enough.

My Interpretation:

2 cups honey
1 tsp. ground sandalwood
1 pound bread crumbs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
5 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. ground black pepper
whole cloves

Place honey in a small pot and bring to a boil on low heat. Skim the honey. Stir bread crumbs into honey, then remove from heat. Mix in spices and then place mixture onto a serving dish. Sprinkle with sugar and decorate the edges and middle with whole cloves.


Ginger is only indicated in the title of the recipe, I have presumed that having it in the recipe is inferred by the title.

The box leaves are omitted because of their potential harmful nature.


Austin, Thomas, comp. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. N.p.: Early English Text Society, 1888. Google Books. Web. 21 June 2012. <>

Stratmann, Francis Henry, and Henry Bradley. A Middle-english Dictionary Containing Words Used by English Writers from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1891. Print. Available at