Honey makers and licitar products


The tradition of making gingerbread began back in the Middle Ages, in the 16th and 17th centuries when cakes where made in richly ornamented wooden moulds in numerous European monasteries. In the eastern Alpine regions, this manner of making cakes soon evolved into a craft, which gradually expanded into other regions of central Europe, when it also arrived in Pannonian Croatia.

Here the masters of the mead making craft make products of honey dough (gingerbread, honey cakes), wax (candles, wax votive gifts) and prepare drinks such as ‘gvirc’ and mead. Since the very beginning of these crafts, these products have been sold at fairs and church feasts, and thanks to the gingerbread cookies, the stands selling mead and gingerbread products have always had a picturesque and special ambient. Today the number of mead products is particularly rich in Marija Bistrica, Croatia’s largest sanctuary to the Virgin Mary. Nicely packaged licitars are suitable for gift giving and for sending to the furthest parts of the world, and are now available in Zagreb shops selling gifts, souvenirs and handicrafts.

Licitar is also the name of the company founded in the spirit of the Croatian mead making craft, with the goal of preserving this tradition. The company encourages the gingerbread production in the way it has long been nurtured in the Bedenica region near Sveti Ivan Zelina, where we cooperate with several gingerbread making families. In affirming the traditional production means and materials, a recognizable product has been created in order to make the youth more familiar with our gingerbread tradition and to acquaint visitors with the Croatian national traditions.

What is licitar?

Licitar is a colourfully decorated cookie made from honey dough, similar to gingerbread. First and foremost, licitar is a true delight for the eyes. Bright red in colour, this gingerbread is made in various sizes, colours and shapes: hearts, cherries, babies, birds, mushrooms, horseshoes, wreaths or horses. As a gift, they are primarily intended for giving on special occasions. The tradition of giving a licitar heart is a means for a young man to express his love for a girl. This tradition has been immortalized in the famed ballet by Krešimir Baranović ‘Licitarsko srce’ (Gingerbread hearts), performed on stages around the world.

The tradition of making gingerbread began back in the Middle Ages, in the 16th and 17th centuries when cakes where made in richly ornamented wooden moulds in numerous European monasteries. In the eastern Alpine regions, this manner of making cakes soon evolved into a craft, which gradually expanded into other regions of central Europe, when it also arrived in Pannonian Croatia.

Here the masters of the mead making craft make products of honey dough (gingerbread, honey cakes), wax (candles, wax votive gifts) and prepare drinks such as ‘gvirc’ and mead. Since the very beginning of these crafts, these products have been sold at fairs and church feasts, and thanks to the gingerbread cookies, the stands selling mead and gingerbread products have always had a picturesque and special ambient. Today the number of mead products is particularly rich in Marija Bistrica, Croatia’s largest sanctuary to the Virgin Mary. Nicely packaged licitars are suitable for gift giving and for sending to the furthest parts of the world, and are now available in Zagreb shops selling gifts, souvenirs and handicrafts.

Licitar is also the name of the company founded in the spirit of the Croatian mead making craft, with the goal of preserving this tradition. The company encourages the gingerbread production in the way it has long been nurtured in the Bedenica region near Sveti Ivan Zelina, where we cooperate with several gingerbread making families. In affirming the traditional production means and materials, a recognizable product has been created in order to make the youth more familiar with our gingerbread tradition and to acquaint visitors with the Croatian national traditions.

Gingerbread moulds

The gingerbread moulds are the most precious utensils of the gingerbread maker. They are handmade of copper, and with their unique shape, they give the sweet dough the soul which have made the licitar cookies so recognizable. Therefore, their owners have jealously kept them in the family, passing them down from generation to generation.

How to make licitar?

Licitar is a sweet cake. It is made of dough which was once sweetened with honey, though now sugar is used as a much less expensive ingredient. However, your heart will taste its sweetness before your taste buds will. Therefore, with the ingredients before you and the gingerbread mould, and with a good eye and skilled hands, a pinch of the sunny hills and plains of Zagreb County and a few grains of the mystical ambient of the family heart need to be worked into the dough.

The following ingredients are required to make licitar:

For the dough: For the glaze: For the decoration:

  • 1 kg sugar
  • 600 ml water
  • 30 g gingerbread yeast (ammonium bicarbonate)
  • 2 kg all-purpose flour
  • 1 kg gelatine
  • 3 L water
  • edible colouring
  • gelatine
  • sugar syrup
  • potato flour
  • edible colour

Recipe

  1. Mix together dough ingredients, and let stand about eight hours. Knead the dough again and roll out on table with rolling pin. Cut the gingerbread with the gingerbread moulds and place on greased and floured baking pan. Preheat oven to 300ºC and bake gingerbread several minutes. After baking, remove excess flour from the gingerbread and leave to dry for several days.
  2. Soak gelatine in water, mix well and cook in double-boiler until thick. Add colour. Dip the smaller licitar shapes into the glaze, remove them and hang them to dry (at least one day). Add glaze to larger licitar shapes using a pastry brush.
  3. To decorate the licitar, combine the ingredients and fill a pastry bag and add the desired nozzle. When the decorations are dry, the licitar is finished.