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Gingerbread Newsletter

Last month we explored the realm of culinary perfumes based upon the spices used in a fine South Indian soup called Sambar. This month we will continue in that vein but with a theme closer to the delectable aromas that were part of my home life growing up. My mom who continues to create delicious treats for our daily afternoon tea party which includes a walk in the forest with her two corgis, a chapter from some book written by an author from the Golden Age of Mystery(Agatha Christie, Triple Gingersnap CookiesDorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, etc.) a cup of herb tea and some variety of home baked cookie or cake. Amongst those treasured culinary delights is her Triple Gingersnap Cookies the recipe of which follows:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sour cream
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger root
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Granulated sugar

Cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in molasses and sour cream. Sift the dry ingredients and stir into butter mixture until well blended. Add fresh and crystallized ginger. Chill dough until soft enough to handle easily. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Flatten slightly.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

The smell of gingerbread cooking in the oven on a cool Fall day is a special childhood remembrance for many folks. The combined smell of molasses, raisins, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and other precious spices mixed in the gingerbread batter and wafting through the air as it cooks is heartening and comforting.

An equally delightful memory for me surrounds the making of Gingerbread cookies cut in the form of Santas, Snowmen, Stars, Dogs and other shapes with old-fashioned cookie cutters. Once my mother had cooked the basic forms we participated in decorating them with different colored frostings, coconut, raisins, and colored sugar. It was a joy to decorate them and then consume them all through the holidays. Such simple pleasures, yet such precious memories.

There is a wonderful treasure of stability and happiness to be found in simple everyday experiences that is somehow embodied beautifully in the aroma of gingerbread. Here is a simple perfume recipe that I have created to capture something of the enchanting nature of its fragrance.

Gingerbread Perfume recipe

3 ounces Ginger Co2 select 2xtract
1/8 ounce Cinnamon bark EO or CO2 select extract
1/4 ounce Allspice Absolute or Allspice CO2 select extract
1/4 ounce Nutmeg Absolute or Nutmeg CO2 select extract
1/2 ounce Vetiver/Sri Lanka(the Sri Lankan vetiver tends to have a lovely molasses scent as part of its total bouquet)
1/4 ounce Clove Absolute or Clove Bud Co2 select extract
2 ounces Orange Sweet EO
1/2 ounce Vanilla Absolute or Vanilla CO2 total extract

Please note that this is a perfume recipe, not a blend to be taken internally.

Gingerbread Aroma In Literature

Jean, sixteen and a range girl to the last fiber of her being, had gotten up early that morning and had washed the dishes and swept, and had shaken the rugs of the little living-room most vigorously. On her knees, with stiff brush and much soapy water, she had scrubbed the kitchen floor until the boards dried white as kitchen floors may be. She had baked a loaf of gingerbread, that came from the oven with a most delectable odor, and had wrapped it in a clean cloth to cool on the kitchen table. Her dad and Lite Avery would show cause for the baking of it when they sat down, fresh washed and ravenous, to their supper that evening.

--from Jean of the Lazy A
by B. M. Bower

Then came the making and baking of cake and gingerbread, the smell whereof reached even as far as the sidewalk in front of the cottage, so that small boys returning from school snuffed it in the breeze, and discoursed with each other on its suggestions; so that the Widow Leech, who happened to pass, remembered she hadn't called on Marilly Raowens for a consid'ble spell, and turned in at the gate and rang three times with long intervals,--but all in vain, the inside Widow having "spotted" the outside one through the blinds, and whispered to her aides-de-camp to let the old thing ring away till she pulled the bell out by the roots, but not to stir to open the door.
--from Atlantic Monthly, Volume 6, No. 37, November, 1860
by Various

The town had a large market-place; and at the fair-time there would be whole rows, like streets, of tents and booths containing silks and ribbons, and toys and cakes, and everything that could be wished for. There were crowds of people, and sometimes the weather would be rainy, and splash with moisture the woollen jackets of the peasants; but it did not destroy the beautiful fragrance of the honey-cakes and gingerbread with which one booth was filled; and the best of it was, that the man who sold these cakes always lodged during the fair-time with little Knud’s parents. So every now and then he had a present of gingerbread, and of course Joanna always had a share. And, more delightful still, the gingerbread seller knew all sorts of things to tell and could even relate stories about his own gingerbread. So one evening he told them a story that made such a deep impression on the children that they never forgot it; and therefore I think we may as well hear it too, for it is not very long.
--from Under the Willow Tree
by Hans Christian Andersen

Ah, those marvellous, unforgettable aromas that come to me out of the long ago with all the reminders
they bring of clink of glass and touch of elbow, of happy boys and girls and sweet old faces. It is forty
years since they greeted my nostrils in the cool, bare, uncurtained hall of the old house in Kennedy Square,  but they are still fresh in my memory. Sometimes it is the fragrance of newly made gingerbread, or the scent of creamy custard with just a suspicion of peach-kernels; sometimes it is the scent of fresh strawberries — strawberries that meant the spring, not the hot-house or Bermuda...
--from The Fortunes of Oliver Horn
by Francis Hopkinson Smith

Won't you always remember the time, when as a child you came home from school as hungry as a bear and opened the old stone crock to find a chunk of toothsome gingerbread; or will you ever forget the delightful fragrance of the spicy, soft gingerbread that Mother had for supper on chilly nights?...
--from American Cookery

Aunt Ploomie gave her visitors a royal welcome. Although in the afternoon, she had but just finished baking, and the sitting-room was filled with the aroma of warm new bread, fresh gingerbread cookies, stewed quinces, and apple-pies. Ted was instantly appreciative, as well as apprehensive lest Aunt Ploomie, in the presence of his mother, forget to offer him his usual treat. Blazer, who had been left outside, was seated on his haunches before the screen door of the kitchen, his nose in contact with the wire. He, too, looked apprehensive. Aunt Ploomie, bidding her guest be seated, untied her gingham apron and dusted the flour from her hands.
--from Sanna; a novel (1905)
by Mary Waller


"What 's that I smell ? — It's gingerbread baking!"

"I had a pint of molasses saved away an' a little sugar. I just thought I might as well make gingerbread. If Allan came he'd like it, an' if he didn't we could eat it talkin' of him an' sayin' we were keepin' his birthday."

She went into the kitchen. Tom rested his forehead on the knob of his cane. His lips moved. The wind rustled the leaves of the forest, the sun shone. Thunder Run sang, the bees hummed above the old blush roses, the yellow cat came up the path and rubbed against Tom's ankle. The smell of the gingerbread floated out hot and strong, a redbird in a gum tree broke into a dear, high carolling.

--from Cease Firing (1912)
by Mary Johnston

When he awakened slowly to consciousness again there was a smell in the air of more coffee, delicious coffee. He wondered if it was the same cup, and this only another brief phase of his own peculiar state. Perhaps he had not been asleep at all, but had only closed his eyes and opened them again. But no, it was night, and there were candles lit beyond the barricade of boxes. He could see their flicker through the cracks, and shadows were falling here and there grotesquely on the bit of canvas that formed another wall. There was some other odor on the air, too. He sniffed delightedly like a little child, something sweet and alluring, reminding one of the days when mother took the gingerbread and pies out of the oven. No--doughnuts, that was it! Doughnuts! Not doughnuts just behind the trenches! How could that be?
--from The Search
by Grace Livingston Hill