The hundreds of gingerbread hearts that decorate the courtyard of the Old Town Hall during Advent, are made by László Radics, the master of gingerbread.
The famous Debrecen gingerbread maker uses a centuries-old family recipe and has baked tens of kilos of gingerbread every day for forty years. At Christmas time, he delivers fresh gingerbread to the Christmas market every day. He also supplies schools and kindergartens with it which are then distributed to patients in hospitals. He delivers natural honey figures and a special foam for decoration for small community centers where folk artists hold crafts for children.
He thinks that there is no typical Hajdúság gingerbread, however, the Reformed Great Church is one of the most used shapes, followed by the heart. The shape of the heart is really different in Transdanubia, where it is a little sharper, longer, while the heart of the Hajdúság is more palatable and round.
What is the secret of a good gingerbread?
According to the master, there is no such thing that “secret of a good gingerbread”, however, if someone only bakes it twice a year, he has no practice and maybe this is what makes his gingerbread different. He bakes for ten hours a day, almost sixty pounds, and up to 800 pieces a day before Christmas. He knows exactly how the dough mixed in the previous night will behave in the morning. Another important tip is that he always uses flower mixed with honey. When we use different types of honey, the dough behaves differently.
László Radics was not always a gingerbread master. Until 1972, he had nothing to do with gingerbread. He worked as a medical technician but he fell in love with the occupation of his wife’s parents and grandparents (who were gingerbread makers) and started to study next to his father-in-law. Today, he is the only one who holds the title “Master of Folk Art” in Hungary.