Saturday, 17 December 2011

Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger

I don't know why gingers get such bad press, as there are so many delicious ginger-related things! Gingernuts, ginger and lemon tea, gingerbread men... and many more I'm sure. For my mum, Christmas is never really Christmas until she makes her legendary shortbread which everyone has come to expect. For me, it's gingerbread. Specifically gingerbread men. It wasn't a childhood thing for me, I think my obsession came about when I worked for awhile with a Swedish girl, and every Christmas she would bring in Swedish Pepparkakor, the most more-ish gingery spicy biscuits you'll ever taste. The recipe for Pepparkor is very similar to that for gingerbread, and I like the kitch-ness of gingerbread men - like fairy bread or cheese straws, there's something wonderfully ridiculous and fun about them. One day I'm going to make a gingerbread house, though I may wait until I have children, otherwise it might be a little bit strange.

As I wanted to make this recipe during the week I decided to split the process over three nights, for the sake of my sanity. Day one: make the dough. Day two: bake the gingerbread men. Day three: ice and decorate. This works out great, as the dough is best when left overnight in the fridge before baking. Also, you don't want to rush the icing, or ice the cookies when they are not completely cool. It would also be a great recipe to make with kids, as it's very simple and fun. I tried to get my boyfriend involved, but unfortunately he's about 20 years too old to get excited about such things.

I found this recipe online, and it's from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook which would be a pretty good book to own I think.... and it would make a lovely Christmas present... hint hint.

I followed it word for word, and was rewarded with gingerbread men that are crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside - the perfect Christmas treat.


400g plain flour
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
2tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g soft dark brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar
1 egg
125g black treacle (I used golden syrup as that was all I had, and they turned out fine)


1 egg white
½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
310g icing sugar, sifted
food colouring, optional


Gingerbread biscuit cutters
A baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper ( I used my new non-stick baking trays for the 99p Store - what a bargain!)


Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl and set aside. 

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and treacle, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Slowly add the flour mixture, stopping often to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Once an even dough has formed, take it out of the mixer, divide into 3 and wrap each piece in clingfilm.

Leave to rest overnight in the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3. Take the dough out of the fridge and leave to soften for about 10 minutes. Generously dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4 mm with a rolling pin. Cut out shapes with the biscuit cutters. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays and bake in the preheated oven for about 10–15 minutes.

Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the icing: Beat the egg white and lemon juice together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk). Gradually start adding the icing sugar, mixing well after each addition to ensure all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until you get stiff peaks. If the icing is too runny, add a little more sugar. Stir in a couple of drops of food colouring, if using, and decorate the cookies.

From this mixture I made 8 large men, 12 medium sized men, and 24 small men. With the small ball left over I made two German-style love hearts, one for me and one for the man. Marry Christmas darling!

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