Christmas Gingerliciousness

21 Dec

Something I’ve been wanting to try for a while is making gingerbread men/women/ninjas, etc.  So, I went on the hunt for the perfect gingerbread recipe. But there are SO many recipes to choose from! There are a few kiwi recipes, for example, Annabel Langbein’s version. Or would something more traditional, like German Lebkuchen be better? The recipe I looked at for this, by the way, comes from the fantastically named website Wives with Knives and describes what a German Christmas market is like, along with very Christmassy pictures. I haven’t been to a Christmas market in Germany, but I did make it to the German Christmas market in Edinburgh a few times and have fond memories of sipping gluwein (spiced, mulled wine) and trying sweet European delicacies.


The Edinburgh German Christmas market

Or maybe I could make something less spicy and more treacily like this. I also remember with great fondness the ginger biscuits that Mum used to make, but I didn’t know whether it would be the best consistency for a gingerbread person. In the end I opted for a recipe entitled “How to make perfect gingerbread” as it sounded so promising.

The secret to success with this recipe has two vital elements:

1. Ensure that the dough has been refridgerated for a while. There are several reasons why this is a good idea. For one, it solidifies the fats, meaning they won’t leach out during the cooking process. The recipe says to pop the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes but I ran out of time to make the cookies that day and it stayed there overnight. You will see from the previous link that 30 minutes is ideal, but I found that as long as you give it some time to rest on the bench and get back to room temperature, it should be fine (I wouldn’t, however, keep the dough in the fridge for days).

2. Get the thickness right. The instructions are to roll out the dough to the thickness of a 1 pound coin, as the recipe comes from a British source. If you don’t live in the UK, this is somewhat unhelpful. I cast my mind back to living in the UK and googled just to be sure. So, if you’re a kiwi, you want the dough to be slightly more than the thickness of a New Zealand $2 coin. If you live elsewhere, you’re going to have to ask Uncle Google. But, the important thing is to not roll out the dough too thinly. The suggested thickness means that you get a soft, satisfying mouthful with each bite. Any thinner and they are just too easy to overcook, as evidenced by the ones I made with leftover dough which were edible, but not enjoyable.

I was curious about where gingerbread came from, so I asked Uncle Google. Due to lack of time and space, I won’t go into it in this blog, but you can read about its fascinating history on the Smithsonian website. Traditionally, gingerbread was a romantic gift and used to be shaped like flowers, birds, animals or even armour and there were regular gingerbread fairs in France and England. For my wee gingies, I stuck with the usual people shapes and (since I can’t bear to waste it) I used the dough spaces in between to make heart shapes.

The Sunday before last, the BFG, some friends and I had a Christmas DVD session at our house, so it was the perfect occasion for gingerbread peeps. The recipe I chose did indeed deliver pretty damn good gingerliciousness!! To make it even more fun, we each decorated our own, using writing icing and M&Ms.

Gingerbread creations

Gingerbread creations

The recipe can be found here, but it’s rather a long article, so, in summary:


I have a very talented friend who makes tiny gingerbread houses. I’m not quite at that level yet and I definitely don’t have the patience, so kudos to her!!
I’d love to hear about your gingerbread attempts/failures/successes/hints. And what shapes did you choose?
Merry Christmas to you and yours! I’m looking forward to sharing more baking adventures in 2017 :).

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