Natalie Paull’s Gingerbread Men

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This recipe comes from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. While I have a favourite gingerbread recipe that I have used for years to make trees and houses, I wanted to try out this one. Gingerbread is, for me, a basic baking recipe and a good measure of a cookbook. This dough was incredibly easy to work with and doesn’t make a copious amount if you only want a small batch (about 40 biscuits).

Ingredients

Biscuit Dough
85g softened unsalted butter
90g brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
235g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (preferably fresh)
1/4 tsp groung cloves
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1 cup icing sugar

Firstly cream the butter, sugar and golden syrup with electric beaters , then add the egg and beat until combined.

Sift all the dry ingredients into the wet batter and beat on low speed to combine.

When the dough comes together, shape into a disc, cover in glad wrap and pop in the fridge for a hour, or overnight if you have time.

When you’re ready to roll the dough out, flour two sheets of glad wrap and roll out to a thickness of 5mm. Lift this sheet of dough onto a baking tray and chill for a further 30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge, cut out the shapes of your choice (I did all gingerbread men but bells, angels and stars look lovely hanging on a Christmas tree). If you wish to thread with ribbon for hanging, make a small hole with a straw in the top of each biscuit before baking. Bake on a tray for 10-12 minutes until firm to the touch.

To make the royal icing, beat together the egg white and icing sugar until glossy and a little thickened. I’d never worked with royal icing before so I had expected the egg whites to whip up thicker but once it came together it was a lot runnier than I had thought. I ploughed ahead and found it strangely stretchy and bouncy to spread but it set quickly once on the biscuits.

This dough was fantastically easy to work with and I will be using it again to make stained-glass biscuits (post to come next week). I would probably have used more of all spices; they weren’t as flavoursome as I would have liked. But overall, these were fairly easy to make and decorate, in addition to bringing a whole lot of festive cheer to my office!

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