Why else go to Tula, if not for samovars and the famous gingerbread. But since samovars are not in vogue these days, and the demand for Tula gingerbread is only growing, let's talk specifically about gingerbread, or rather about Tula gingerbread.
In them, perhaps, the whole history of Russia. There were many craftsmen in Tula, and each of them baked gingerbread according to their own unique recipes, which were kept in strict secrecy and were passed only by inheritance and exclusively through the male line. None of the craftsmen ever used weights on which the weight is written so that the "spies" could not find out how much flour the recipe requires, how much honey, etc.
In the 19th century, there were about ten bakers in Tula: Vasily Serikov, considered the progenitor of the factory, who organized its production in 1870, the Belolipetsky brothers, Pyotr Kozlov, the Grechikhin brothers, who in 1900 shocked the whole world by building exhibition in Paris from gingerbread a whole pavilion. You can't list all of them.
And after the revolution for some time there was no time for gingerbread. But during the NEP they appeared again. However, the sonorous gingerbread names like "Issiduan", "Tsarsky" were replaced by "Komsomolskie" and "Komissarskie".
Tula gingerbread - printed. It is not easy to make it. First you need to make a plate for the form. The material for it is cut out of birch and must "mature" - from five to 20 years. When the board dried out, a pattern was applied to it in a mirror image. Gingerbread was baked in this form.
The gingerbread can be considered unique, the shape of which was used only once, in 1896, on the day of the coronation of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II. This gingerbread depicts the profile of a royal person.
Today, the Tula confectionery factory bakes gingerbread according to an old recipe. There is a legend according to which, after the war, they decided to revive the forgotten art of baking gingerbread. However, all the recipes for making gingerbread died along with their inventors. It was decided to gather people who once had anything to do with the gingerbread industry.
Gingerbread cookies were of different types and varieties, with and without filling, with different dough composition, the degree of its saturation with spices, aging, flour quality and shape - molded, cut and printed. Among the printed gingerbreads, the most famous are Tula raw, honey, creamy, brown ones with a marble-glossy surface, a scalloped edge, golden dough and fruit and berry filling; Tver white mint; Gorodets, cooked with honey from cool-kneaded dough; Moscow and St. Petersburg custards.
The natural, climatic and geomagnetic conditions of the Tula region determine the quality and taste of both fruits and berries and wheat. The flour obtained from wheat growing in the Tula region has certain properties and gluten content, which ensure the structure of the dough inherent only in Tula gingerbread, the clarity of the embossed pattern on the front side of the gingerbread and the preservation of its shape during the baking process. The Tula region has long been famous for its fruit and berry orchards, for example, in the Bogucharsky, Arsenyevsky, Belevsky districts. It was from these apples and berries that the filling for the Tula gingerbread was prepared. Therefore, the use of preserves, jams and marmalades from fruits and berries growing in the Tula province as a filling also distinguishes Tula gingerbread in taste and smell from its fellows.
Themes of pictorial plots are very diverse: stylistic images of a samovar, a bird of Happiness, Tula Lefty, Tula cathedrals, the Tula Kremlin, views of Yasnaya Polyana, heroes of folk tales and legends; the inscriptions in the center of the gingerbread - "Tula gingerbread", "With all my heart", "Gift from Tula", "Wedding gift", "Happy birthday"; "Strawberry", "Currant", "Apple", etc. in accordance with the taste of the filling; "Olya", "Vera", "Tanya" - personalized gingerbread.
The book "Ancient Productions of the Tula Region" confirms: "Back in the 17th-18th centuries in Tula, " printed "gingerbread cookies decorated with intricate patterns were baked and sold." Tula gingerbread gained particular popularity in the 19th century. Since then, whole dynasties of the gingerbread business have appeared in Tula. Every year Tula confectioners went to fairs with their goods. And not only to Russian fairs. The Tula gingerbread has been repeatedly awarded with Russian and international prizes: only the Grechikhin brothers received a total of 12 awards for their gingerbread, gold medals from France and England, a gold cross and a ring from the tsar. The Belolipetsk merchants also glorified Tula. For their gingerbread, they received more than once gold and silver medals, from Empress Maria Feodorovna - a gold ring with rubies and diamonds, and from the Serbian King - a gold medal for offering Tula gingerbread. The sons of the founder of the factory, Platon and Alexander, received a gold pin with precious stones from the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich for almond gingerbread.
Pyotr Ivanovich Kozlov's Tula gingerbread cookies in 1912 in Rome at the World Exhibition took first place and received the Grand Prix and a medal, which is still kept in the Tula Samovars Museum in Tula. Even during the First World War, in 1915, the Tula gingerbread at the exhibition in Paris again won a prize.