Festive gingerbread men

Gingerbread men

I found the white chocolate drop eyes a tad scary!

One recipe that I just had to try out for the Christmas Fayre was that most festive of treats: gingerbread men. I’d never made gingerbread before, and what with it being Christmas and all, I figured they’d sell like hot cakes.

A little while ago, Guardian writer Stuart Heritage kindly wrote a post for the food website that I edit (Kitchen Bitching), which documented his distressing experience with gingerbread men. Well, I used his recipe (the one he in fact stole from the BBC) to see for myself just how distressing they were.

It turns out, they’re pretty bloody distressing. Making them was fine, but getting them to lift off the cutting board without losing their arms (finally achieved by using my very thinnest fish slice) was a nightmare. And as it turns out, I’m pretty rubbish at decorating gingerbread too (something I did not foresee). Luckily we’d bought some really pretty presentation bags for the cake stall (and I’d made them in three sizes), so I decided to group them up and sell them as gingerbread families ― largely disguising their appearance.

It worked: the gingerbread families sold out incredibly quickly, and my friend’s eight year old son said they were the best gingerbread men/women/children he’d ever tasted. Winner.

So if you want to whip up some gingerbread men of your own this festive season, you’ll need:

  • 12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (or more if you like a stronger flavour)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4½oz butter
  • 6oz light soft brown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

Make the magic happen:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper
  2. Sift all of your dry ingredients (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon) into a large bowl and mix together


    Getting prepped

  3. Add the butter and blend until the mix starts to resemble breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar
  4. Lightly beat together the egg and golden syrup, form a well in your breadcrumb mix, then add the liquid into the well – mixing in more and more of the mixture until a soft dough is formed

    Taking shape

    Taking shape

  5. Tip the dough onto a floured board and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for around 15 minutes
  6. Remove from the fridge (and the clingfilm!) and roll out to a thickness of 0.5cm


    Ready for cutting

  7. Cut out the gingerbread men using shaped cutters


    Gingerbread family – or the three wise men?

  8. Place on the baking trays, leaving a gap between each shape

    gingerbread men

    Room to grow

  9. Bake in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling

    gingerbread men

    Leave to cool

  10. Organise into families if the fancy takes you

    gingerbread men

    I’ve got all my sisters with me

  11. Once cool, decorate however you like. I melted chocolate and painted on trousers, then sprinkled over hundreds and thousands. I also gave some of them smartie buttons. You could use icing, jelly tots, or anything that takes your fancy

    gingerbread families

    Selling like hot cakes…

Scoff with a cuppa, or buy festive little bags and make your own gingerbread families.

Love Emma xx


2 thoughts on “Festive gingerbread men

  1. Hi Emma, to avoid gingerbread men breaking I roll the dough straight on to baking sheets then remove the excess around the men instead and pop the sheet on to a tray and straight in to the oven from there; it avoids the need to move them off the surface they were rolled out on! 🙂 less stressful

  2. Pingback: Stuart Heritage takes on a gingerbread house (and loses) « Kitchen Bitching

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