I have never in my life made gingerbread before. Unless you count a large quantity made out of foam board and my own less than edible icing recipe. So having spent weeks researching gingerbread houses online, I wanted to try and make some, and fearing I might have to resort to a hot glue gun to get a house to stick together, I settled on making gingerbread men. I also decided to use Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Snowflake recipe because Smitten Kitchen, a blog I've successfully used recipes from before, recommended it. But for the love of ninja-bread men, if you make this recipe, make half! Make a quarter even! I didn't... which was a mistake.
Gingerbread adapted from Martha Stewart Gingerbread Snowflake Recipe
- 750g (6 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 227g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 200g (1 cup) packed dark-brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 large eggs
- 345g (1 cup) unsulfured molasses (or treacle if you're in the UK)
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy.
- Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses/treacle. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F/Gas Mark 4).
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to about half a centimetre thick. Cut into your shape of choice. Space a couple of centimetres apart (they don't spread much) on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Bake biscuits until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let the biscuits cool on sheets on wire racks.
Lemon Royal Icing from Martha Stewart
- 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
- 500g (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 drops glycerin
- Beat the egg whites until fluffy and stiff (but not dry).
- Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerine; beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Put into an icing bag or squeezy bottle with a small tip.
- Decorate as you wish...
- ... allow sisters to help. End up with vampires.
Who wouldn't like a blood sucking gingerbread vampire in their biscuit tin at Christmas?
In hindsight, this recipe, while really good and easy to make, wasn't really what I'd been wanting. It was too treacly (I don't like treacle), too clovey (I don't like cloves, especially in sweet food), I slightly under baked them so they were soft rather than crunchy and most importantly, I didn't read the recipe quantities properly. It's measurements were based on making sixteen, seven inch snowflake decorations and so I ended up making enough dough to actually make my giant gingerbread house a reality.
Shame, but then there were Yeti's...
Marks and Spencer's were selling Gingerbread Men Yeti's before Christmas and they were so good I wanted to make my own. Which was actually the main reason I wanted to make gingerbread other than having spent weeks looking at houses made of it. So using the same - slightly more naked - gingerbread men, I dipped them in melted white chocolate (a good one with vanilla seeds in it) and then covered them in dessicated coconut. I set them in the fridge and there you go, gingerbread yeti's.
Actually, with the white chocolate and the coconut, the gingerbread was quite nice. It sweetened and mellowed the spices, but again it would have been nice if the biscuits were crunchy.
So, not an overall success, but I may try Mary Berry's recipe next year. She uses golden syrup and fewer spices, which should make the biscuits taste more of how I expect gingerbread to taste. But, that's months and months away, plenty of time to research.
Link | Martha Stewart Gingerbread Snowflake Recipe via Martha Stewart
Link | Martha Stewart Lemon Royal Icing Recipe via Martha Stewart
Link | Spicy Gingerbread Cookies via Smitten Kitchen
Link | Gingerbread Men Recipe by Mary Berry via BBC Food
Listening: Ball and Biscuit - The White Stripes