Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Men
Home Cooking

It's been a long time since I've done any kind of cooking. Between working in Toowoomba, rushing to Brisbane on weekends and trying to keep a relatively healthy diet, I've omitted dessert production from my range of weekly activities. Christmas is one of those times in a year (along with birthdays) that reliably knock down any premises of self-control. It's a time for indulgence.

As well as (literally) opening up to an array of glorious food and decadent snacks provided by others over the 3 days (Christmas Eve to Boxing Day), I dusted off my own kitchen hands and decided to do a spot of baking. Christmas-themed desserts are plentiful but I kept it simple because I had to transport ingredients and equipment the 2hrs from Toowoomba to bake at mum and dad's house. Marc's keen on gingerbread and they're suggestive of the holiday season so I decided to make a batch of gingerbread men.

My first hiccup was assuming that Woolworths would sell cookie cutters. They didn't. Not even rounds. I was resigned to the idea of having to produce gingerbread slabs when a trip to the DFO resulted in not only some great bargains (I gifted myself a gorgeous leather satchel) but also a set of cookie cutters.

The recipe I chose to follow was the first that came up on Google and seemed to use the least ingredients. I modified it by doubling the amount of ground ginger, as suggested in the comments section (the doubled amount is reflected in my recipe below). Rather than making my own icing, I cheated and used Queen's icing pens. They were great! I thought they were extremely easy and fun to use.

Gingerbread Men
Makes approx 20

  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 375g (2 and 1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Coloured icing and candy, to decorate

1. Using an electric beater, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and pale.
2. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined.
3. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and baking soda. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line 2 cookie trays with baking paper.
5. Place the dough between 2 large sheets of baking paper and roll until approx 4mm thick.
6. Stamp out gingerbread men shapes with a cookie cutter and place on the trays about 3cm apart. Repeat the rolling and stamping process with any excess dough.
7. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
8. Once cooled, ice and decorate.

I had to bake my cookies in 3 batches over 2 tray per batch because they wouldn't fit. Maybe my gingerbread men were extra large? The recipe was easy to follow. All you need is an electric beater and that does all the work for you. The dough is a bit fiddly to transfer onto the trays and I kept breaking the shapes at the armpits and legs but I just pushed the tears together and pretended that nothing happened... just remember that you can ice over any disfigurations :).

The gingerbread men were mild and yummy. I was lazy with my rolling and had some thin bits and some thick bits that obviously cooked at different rates. I personally preferred the thicker cookies that were softer to chew on. If you make them thinner or bake them for longer, they go crispier.

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