Making and decorating gingerbread men is fun for kids of all ages! I had planned to make gingerbread men, but then discovered that my cutters were for women and teddy bears!
For the basic gingerbread mix, I used a recipe from BBC Food.
- 350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 125g butter/margarine
- 175g light soft brown sugar – I used dark brown sugar, but it’s a matter of colour preference!
- 1 egg (medium)
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
This gave me enough dough to make a BIG tub of gingerbread figures and shapes, as shown in the picture below:
1. Put the flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon in your food processor. Add the butter and whiz everything together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and blend.
2. Add the egg and golden syrup to the mixture and blend. At this point my food processor gave up so I tipped the mix into a bowl and finished the mixing by hand, combining everything until I had a smooth dough.
3. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line as many baking trays as you have with greaseproof paper (I only have 2 and had to keep rotating them, unloading and reloading each time a batch of biscuits was done!).
5. Roll the dough out until it’s about 0.5 cm thick. You will need quite a lot of flour to stop it sticking to your board and rolling pin. Leaving the dough thicker gives you a chewier gingerbread, but a rounder surface which is harder to decorate. Rolling the dough thinner gives you a crunchier gingerbread, but a flatter surface which is much easier to decorate. Your choice! I went for a mixture of the two options.
6. Use cutters of your choice to cut out your gingerbread shapes. I also did a few hearts to use up the “left overs”. Put the gingerbread shapes on your baking trays, making sure you leave a bit of a gap between them to allow for any spread.
7. Cook for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. They can go from “cooked” to “burnt” quickly, so keep an eye on them. Leave on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
I mixed up some thick royal icing (just royal icing sugar and a tiny bit of water) and then piped blobs for the whites of their eyes. I left that to dry. For the rest of the icing I cheated and used shop-bought writing icing. It comes in a variety of colours, and the tubes – with their small outlets – make decorating much easier. I used a few sprinkles, sugar stars etc. for additional sparkle on the ladies’ dresses. I think I may be a frustrated dress designer! 🙂
These gingerbread figures are easy to make, fun and colourful! My little boy really enjoyed helping me roll the dough and cut out the shapes. I gave him some of the more “squashed” looking biscuits to go mad on with the icing tubes. And he makes enthusiastic yummy noises when he gets one to eat.
© Claire Huston / Art and Soul