Foodie that I am nothing says Christmas to me like Gingerbread men. At least I can’t remember the last time I didn’t make gingerbread at Christmas, and this year is no different.
This isn’t really a blog about how to make gingerbread as there are a thousand simple recipes out there but it’s more a journal of my happy seasonal routine. The recipe differs each year with the general trend towards more ginger (I love ginger!) but the only essential ingredients are fun and silliness! Oh, and a couple of special tips…
400g plain flour
4 tbsp golden syrup
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g soft brown sugar
Optional food colouring
Icing sugar (some)
Lemon juice (some)
Made to a soundtrack of whatever music gets you in the mood…
1) Pour the flour, butter, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger into a mixer.
2) Whiz until you get a breadcrumby texture
3) Add the sugar and then, with the mixer turned on, drip the egg and syrup into the mixer
4) You’re going to end up with a firmish dough that needs to be wrapped up in clingfilm and refrigerated for a while.
5) Roll the chilled dough out on a floured board or work surface until it’s around half a centimetre thick
6) Now get to work with your cutters! This is a whole load of fun. Of course there’s no reason why you have to stick to gingerbread men. I have accumulated a great range of cutters including Christmassy ones, animals and gingerdead men.
7) Place your shapes onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
8) Throw in the oven until golden brown – around 10+ minutes. If in doubt remove earlier than later and bear in mind that your gingerbread will firm up after it’s removed from the oven. You’ll probably have to bake 2 or 3 rounds of these.
9) Once the gingerbread has cooled on a wire rack it’s best to store it for a while in a sealed container. OK, here’s special tip number 1: Add some sliced apple to the container with the cut face not touching any of the goodies. This Tyrolean grandmother inspired step will ensure the biscuits stay soft and take on a festive apple flavour.
10) If you are icing your creations then I would leave this until nearer the time of consumption. Here’s special tip number 2: Drip a little lemon juice into a bowl and mix in your icing sugar. This tastes infinitely better than water based icing. Now get creative…
11) I used icing modestly because I didn’t want to overpower the gingerbread but you can do what you want. Food colouring presents more possibilities and I was miffed to discover I was out of red, so no nose for Rudolph.
There’s no end to the fun you can have with gingerbread. It’s a seasonal affair in terms of ingredients but also in folklore and makes a great Christmas gift. Perhaps you can compose a festive scene?
Big kid? Me?!