There’s something about gingerbread that is synonymous with Christmas. Maybe it’s the deep spicy notes of the ginger and various spices, or maybe it’s just what we’re conditioned to think. Regardless of why, it is definitely a holiday cookie.. to me anyway!
This year, I decided to try making my very own gingerbread cookies for Christmas. This is a HUGE thing for me, as I am not a fan of ginger. Sure I will use it in cooking – but I either blend it into a pulp (where I can’t pick it out), or use large chunks (which I then fish out pre-eating). I’ve actually improved loads from my childhood days, where I would categorically refuse to eat anything with ginger in it.
I used a recipe from Peggy Porshen’s Cake Chic. I find her cookie recipes very reliable, as they always turn out well, with minimal spreading – which is perfect for cookie decorating. I remember using this other cookie recipe previously, and the cookies turned out slightly domed… but when I turned to Peggy’s recipe, the cookies turned out beautifully flat.
This gingerbread cookie recipe was no different, and turned out very well – despite me tweaking the recipe. As always, I cut down on the amount of sugar used in the dough, and added more cinnamon (because I’m slightly obsessed with cinnamon in baked goods).
The other main modification I made was to use a mix of treacle + maple syrup + liquid glucose (instead of treacle + golden syrup) – this was primarily because I didn’t want to buy a whole can of golden syrup just to make these, especially when I’d only need a few tablespoonfuls! I wasn’t too fussed about the treacle as I can use it to make Sarawak Seri Kaya cake (a Malaysian steamed cake which is absolutely delicious). The extra treacle definitely makes the cookies a tad darker than the original recipe though.
And because it was Christmas, I fished out all my festive cookie cutters, and went a little cookie crazy! I realized I don’t have a snowflake cookie cutter though, which means I will probably own one by next December.
Cookie decorating definitely gets easier the more you do it though – it’s only my third time doing this, but I am definitely working more efficiently (and neatly!). Unfortunately my royal icing was a little too thick, but I was too lazy/impatient to thin it out more… oops. I think they still turned out ok though, but the piping just wasn’t as precise as I would have liked. Live and learn.
Adapted from Peggy Porshen’s Cake Chic
- 250g cold salted butter, diced
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 560g plain flour
For the hot mix:
- 5 tbsp cold water
- 100g brown sugar
- 4 tbsp treacle
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 3 tbsp ground ginger
- 4 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
1. Place the hot mix ingreadients in a medium sized saucepan. Cook over medium high heat (stirring semi-constantly with a spatula) until it starts to boil.
2. Remove saucepan from the heat. Add in the cold cubed butter, and stir it into the hot mix until all the butter is melted.
3. Add the baking soda, and stir/whisk until it is well combined.
4. Pour the mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer, and leave to cool slightly.
5. In the meantime, measure out your flour and sieve it.
6. With the paddle attachment on at a low speed, slowly add in the flour to the liquid mix (I added 1/4 cup flour each time), until all the flour is used up. You are aiming for a sticky wet dough. It might seem like the mixture is too dry, but fear not as it will form a nice ball of dough.
7. Divide the dough into two portions, and form a round with each portion. Wrap in clingfilm, and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
8. Once the dough is well chilled, roll it out (with a rolling pin) into a 5mm thick rectangle. I prefer to roll out my cookie dough between two sheets of clingfilm, as I find that it is much neater/cleaner to do it this way. Just remember to lift the top layer of clingfilm from time to time, to avoid creases in clingfilm indenting on your cookie dough.
9. Using cookie cutters, cut out your desired cookie shapes, and lay them on a tray lined with baking paper/silpat mats.
10. Chill the cut out cookies in the fridge for 30 minutes. This step is important as it helps to ensure minimal cookie spreading in the oven.
11. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 190’C.
12. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes (cooking times vary depending on cookie size), until the cookies are just firm to touch.
13. Lift the cookies off the baking tray, and cool on a wire rack.
14. Once the cookies are cooled, you can either start decorating them. These cookies also keep well in a cool dry place for up to a month, wrapped in foil or clingflim (and ideally placed in an airtight container).
*This recipe makes approximately 60-70 cookies (again this depends on the size of your cookies). If you wish, you can freeze the cookie dough (wrapped well in clingfilm) in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, you may wish to cut out the cookies into shapes first, and then freeze this instead. You can then pop a few frozen uncooked cookies into the oven, and voila – freshly baked cookies!
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and here’s to a great year ahead!
(I still can’t believe it’s almost 2012, eep.)