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:
- Preheat your oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper
- Sift all of your dry ingredients (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon) into a large bowl and mix together
- Add the butter and blend until the mix starts to resemble breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar
- 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
- 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
- Remove from the fridge (and the clingfilm!) and roll out to a thickness of 0.5cm
- Cut out the gingerbread men using shaped cutters
- Place on the baking trays, leaving a gap between each shape
- 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
- Organise into families if the fancy takes you
- 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
Scoff with a cuppa, or buy festive little bags and make your own gingerbread families.
Love Emma xx