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Image / Editorial

Today’s Christmas Prep: Fun Gingerbread Shapes

by Meg Walker
20th Dec 2017

Here’s something for everyone to enjoy at Christmas. This gingerbread has enough warm spice to make a sophisticated treat for the grown-ups, but not enough to turn the kids off. The kids can get involved in making them, too; cutting out the shapes and icing them can be a lot of fun. The gingerbread will last up to five days in an airtight container, so it makes an excellent gift in the lead-up to Christmas.

Makes 24

For the gingerbread
585g plain flour
pinch ground clove
pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bread soda
½ tsp salt
215g unsalted butter, softened
225g soft brown sugar
185g golden syrup (use honey or maple syrup if preferred)
3 egg yolks, at room temperature

For the icing
1 egg white
250g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp lemon juice

To make the gingerbread, sift together the flour, spices, bread soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and golden syrup until pale but not too aerated.

With the mixer still running, add the egg yolks one a time, beating between each addition until just combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently on a low speed, until just combined.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece out into a disc roughly 2cm thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, to rest.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll each disc out between two sheets of baking paper into a sheet 5mm thick. Leave them between the sheets of baking paper and return them to the fridge for an hour, to set firm.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge and lay the sheets out on the bench. Line three trays with baking paper, and cut your shapes out of the dough with cookie cutters, laying them out evenly on the trays and leaving 2cm between each biscuit to ensure an even bake. Bake for 6 minutes, then turn the trays around and bake for another 4-6 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown. Set aside to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, place the egg white in a medium sized bowl and add the icing sugar one spoonful at a time, whisking lightly to fully incorporate the sugar between each addition. Whisk through the lemon juice, then transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle and decorate your biscuits as you like. The gingerbread is ready to eat once the icing has set.

Extracted from The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James with Pippa James (Hardie Grant, approx €28).