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Look, think, do: Wooden mould with gilded gingerbread gentlewoman

Description of this object or artwork

On loan to The Fitzwilliam Museum from a private collection, with a pressing by Ivan Day, for our exhibition Feast & Fast: the Art of Food in Europe, 1500-1800

Food historian, Ivan Day, shared this recipe for gingerbread from c. 1395. It is one of the earliest known recipes from England.

Take good honey and clarify it on the fire. Mix in some breadcrumbs and boil the honey, stirring well. Once boiled, take off the heat to cool, and mix in powdered ginger, long pepper and red saunders to colour. Temper it and flatten it, and then decorate with cloves.

The recipe is transcribed by Constance Hieatt in her book Curye on Inglysch (1985).

Double-sided wooden mould for gentlewoman and militiaman with gilded gingerbread woman

Unknown maker, Netherlands or Belgium, c 1620

Height 19.6cm, width 9.5cm, depth 4cm


Look at how small and detailed the biscuit is!

What do you think the shiny material is that's covering her?


How many of these could you eat?

Imagine what special event this gingerbread woman was made for.

Have you ever eaten a sweet snack decorated with gold foil? 


Make your own gingerbread people following these steps. You can you use a biscuit cutter or a stencil.

You could decorate them with historic clothing or try out one of our medieval recipes!

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