Polish history enthusiasts uncover secret gingerbread recipe which stems from a forgotten centuries old tradition. Tania Willis reports.
An old photograph of a Polish gingerbread baker and his daughter prompted a search for a secret recipe which had been lost for 70 years. Two local history enthusiasts traced baker Max Prause and his daughter Johanna back to the village of Bardo, famed for making Wartha gingerbread, a recipe said to date back to the late 1400s. Before World War II Bardo was called Wartha and belonged to Germany, but became Polish territory after the war which forced gingerbread bakers such as Mr. Prause to leave. The tiny village of Bardo had only half a dozen families living there, with recipes kept secret and only passed from father to son. After the sudden death of Johanna's brother Hans in 1967, there was no one left to continue the tradition and Prause's gingerbread's went out of production. SOUNDBITE History Enthusiast, Mateusz Gnaczy, saying (Polish) : "The uniqueness of the recipe given to us by Mr. Johannes Martin, the heir of Max Prause, is that it comes from a 500-year-old tradition of baking gingerbread's in Bardo as well as in the whole Lower Silesia region. Our next goal is to find even older recipes, to find living descendants of other gingerbread bakers from Bardo, to contact them to get new unknown recipes." Both history enthusiasts are hoping to organise the first 'Gingerbread Baking Meeting " in January for all those who want to be let into the secrets of the craft.