Monday, December 22, 2008

Soft Spot

gingerbread man

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.

Gingerbread Men
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

Royal Icing
• 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.


Manggy said...

Ooh, that's perfect, Lisa :) It's only last year that I had my first gingerbread but I've loved it ever since-- a late-bloomer tradition. And yes! to soft, chewy gingerbread-- crunchy, hard gingerbread is such a waste!

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

I've never heard of pasteurised eggwhite until now. I like the way you used fresh ginger. Nice Christmas themed colours!

Lizzie said...

Lisa, thank you so much for posting a recipe for soft gingerbread! Whilst I'm going to be making harder spice cookies for the tree decorations, I desperately wanted to bake a few gingerbread people (I have a boy cutter and a girl-with-cute-skirt cutter) that were soft and chewy!

Merry Christmas :)

Karen said...

Yum I love gingerbread especially with fresh ginger! I loved the simple gingerbread outfit and of course your photo was simply gorgeous.

Merry Christmas Lisa. Be safe and eat well :)

Leslie said...

almost too cute to eat!

Lisa said...

Mark, I will admit that as a kid I preferred to eat the decorations more than the actual gingerbread but luckily times have changed!

Arwen, I've tried gingerbread with fresh ginger and with powdered ginger and fresh wins hands down. Some good quality free-range egg whites should be okay too.

Lizzie, I can't wait to see them! Little boy and girl gingerbread people will be so cute!

Karen, Thank you :) Merry Christmas to you too!

Leslie, almost... but it certainly didn't stop us :)

Lizzie said...

Hi Lisa!

I made them this afternoon - YUM!! Even my partner, who is not really a fan of gingerbread cookies (more a loaf-of-gingerbread guy) really liked them. Big hit! Will have to post a photo for you when I finish icing them tomorrow :D

Lisa said...

Lizzie, I'm so glad you liked them!! I can't wait to see pictures :)

rookie cookie said...

I have been scrolling through you blog and loving it. Delightful. The pictures are perfect. Nice work!

Lauren said...

In my opinion it is just not Christmas without gingerbread cookies. As the summer comes a close and the fall air begins to come in I came across this recipe and immediately smiled. While I know that Christmas is still not for several months it is always good to snatch up good Christmas Dessert Recipes whenever they are available. I work with Better Recipes and have special place in my heart for Christmas recipes. I also prefer my gingerbread on the softer side so I can't wait to try this out come December.

Anonymous said...


I was wondering how far in advance you can make these? (I plan to make them for Christmas).

Lisa said...

Hi Anon, if you store them in an airtight container I think you can make them 5 days - a week in advance. I'm making a batch tonight too!


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