There is something special about gingerbread men, something that makes me think no matter how old you are, they will always have a special place in your heart. A nostalgic soft spot for a baked good is not uncommon; I mean just look how popular cupcakes have become! I remember my parents staying up extraordinarily late making and decorating giant twin gingerbread men for my fourth birthday, and I can definitely imagine making them with my own kids one day.
I have wanted to make up a batch of gingerbread men ever since I saw my favourite Sydney bakery starting to sell them in early December. They are perfect for Christmas-time, and make great little home made gifts. I have kept the embellishments simple – just royal icing and smarties for buttons, but you could get far more creative with fondant or other embellishments if you’re keen!
This recipe makes the kind of gingerbread I like – chewy rather than crunchy, and subtly spiced rather than overpowering. You can of course adjust the amount of ginger used according to your own personal taste. I like to use freshly grated ginger, but if it’s unavailable you could use powdered ginger. The royal icing recipe uses a raw pasteurised egg white, but if you are concerned about health risks, you could use meringue powder instead.
Makes 14-16 cookies
Adapted from Donna Hay magazine
• 125g butter, softened and chopped
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2/3 cup golden syrup
• 2 ½ cups plain flour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
• 1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
• 1 pasteurised egg white
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
• Smarties, to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 190ºC (370ºF). Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes until light and creamy.
2. Add the golden syrup, flour, baking soda and ginger and beat until mixture just comes together to form a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper until 5mm thick. Use a gingerbread man shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Place on baking trays lined with baking paper and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool on trays.
4. To make the royal icing, place the egg white and lemon juice and beat until frothy. Add the icing sugar and beat until mixture is combined and smooth. Use a piping bag or a zip lock bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the icing and decorate the gingerbread men.