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How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

Best Baking Recipes: How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

I always make gingerbread cookies as the Christmas season approaches, but I see no reason why they can't be eaten throughout the year! Indeed in many countries, gingerbread features regularly throughout the seasons, although in England, it generally signals the start of the Christmas season.

Gingerbread is thought to have been introduced in Europe via France by an Armenian monk in 992. It then gained in popularity throughout Europe and the Americas and is now widespread in many countries around the world. The spiced aromas of gingerbread baking in the oven are comforting and warming, and perhaps that is why it is particularly popular at Christmas time, when everyone is getting ready to hunker down for winter.

Modern day gingerbread refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically sweetened and spiced with a combination of ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Whilst some types of gingerbread may have a spongy bread or cake like texture, others can be dense and crispy, and these are often cut into shapes before baking to make gingerbread cookies. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth I used to serve gingerbread men at court to foreign dignitaries.

The elaborately decorated gingerbread house is another popular creation, originating in Germany in the early 1800s. Whether you choose to make a house or cut other shapes, baking gingerbread is always a fun activity for the children. Mine love to decorate more than they like to make gingerbread cookies, although they would never turn down the opportunity to sneak a few sweets from the gingerbread houses!

The recipe below is gently spiced and not too sweet, with hints of citrus. Once you know the trick to make gingerbread cookies, you'll realise that it doesn't have to take all day. As you'll see below, I typically break it up into stages, beginning by making a large batch (or two!) of dough, depending on how much I'm planning to bake. Then I have a dedicated rolling and cutting session, when I make my shapes in advance and store them in the freezer for baking later. This part probably requires the most time, but it is also the fun part, where the children like to be involved! Finally, about one or two days before I need the gingerbread cookies, I bake the pre-cut shapes.

When the cookies have cooled completely, you could certainly eat them straight away. We tend to decorate ours, and I usually also package them up as holidays gifts. This multi stage system has made the intensity of holiday baking a lot more manageable. Perhaps this will inspire you to make gingerbread cookies this holiday season!

Here's what you'll need to make gingerbread cookies:
(Click here to jump straight to the recipe)

375g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
170g butter, cut into chunks
100g light muscovado sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbsp orange zest
2 Tbsp black treacle
1 tsp vanilla extract

And here's what you'll need to do:

  • Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices into either the bowl of your food processor or a large mixing bowl and prepare the butter.
  • Add the butter chunks, and either pulse gently in the food processor or use a knife and fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture, until it starts to resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Then add the sugar, stir, and add the orange zest, stirring again until everything is well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, black treacle and vanilla extract. Add it to the food processor or mixing bowl, and either pulse or stir continuously in one direction, until the mixture starts to come together in clumps.
  • Remove the dough from the food processor or mixing bowl, and knead on a floured  surface for a few minutes until smooth and uniform.You should have about 750g of raw dough.
  • Divide the dough into two equal portions, shaping each into a flat disc, and wrap tightly in cling film. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before rolling. (Tip: You can make the dough in advance and store in the fridge for up to a week until needed or the in freezer (doubled wrapped and in a tightly sealed bag) for up to three months. Just let the dough warm to a soft enough consistency before kneading, rolling and cutting your shapes.)
  • If you're cutting shapes and baking straight away, preheat the oven to 190C / 170C Fan, and line a baking sheet with parchment. Otherwise, preheat the oven before you intend to bake.
  • Roll out the dough onto a flat floured surface. (Tip: Roll it out directly onto the parchment that you will be using for baking, this way you don't have to transfer the cut shapes and risk damaging them before they've even been baked!)
  • Cut out your gingerbread shapes, and gather together the excess dough, knead, roll and cut more shapes until all the dough has been used. If you find your dough warming up too much between rollings, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.
  • (Tip: To save time and make gingerbread cookies fresh for when you need them, cut all your shapes ahead of time, freeze and transfer them to a tightly sealed container. Thaw on a lined baking sheet before baking.)
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 9-11 minutes until golden, and cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  • Make up a batch of royal icing, tinting as desired, to decorate your gingerbread cookies.
Best Baking Recipes: How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
Best Baking Recipes: How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
Best Baking Recipes: How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
  • If you'll be assembling gingerbread houses, use the royal icing as the 'glue' to hold the different bits together.
Best Baking Recipes: Gingerbread House
Best Baking Recipes: Gingerbread House

 

How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

By

Best Baking Recipes: How to Make Gingerbread Cookies

Make gingerbread cookies this holiday season, and enjoy the delicious spiced aromas filling your kitchen.

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus time to chill, roll and cut shapes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 750g of raw dough
Course: Dessert, Pudding, Snack
Cuisine: Modern European
Tags: Holiday Baking, Spiced Bread, Festive Cookies

Ingredients

375g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
170g butter, cut into chunks
100g light muscovado sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbsp orange zest
2 Tbsp black treacle
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices into either the bowl of your food processor or a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter chunks, and either pulse gently in the food processor or use a knife and fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture, until it starts to resemble breadcrumbs.
  3. Then stir in the sugar until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, black treacle and vanilla extract. Add it to the food processor or mixing bowl, and either pulse or stir continuously in one direction, until the mixture starts to come together in clumps.
  5. Remove the dough from the food processor or mixing bowl, and knead on a floured surface for a few minutes until smooth and uniform.You should have about 750g of raw dough.
  6. Divide the dough into two equal portions, shaping each into a flat disc, and wrap tightly in cling film. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before rolling. (Tip: You can make the dough in advance and store in the fridge for up to a week until needed or in the freezer (doubled wrapped and in a tightly sealed bag) for up to three months. Just let the dough warm to a soft enough consistency before kneading, rolling and cutting your shapes.)
  7. If you're cutting shapes and baking straight away, preheat the oven to 190C / 170C Fan, and line a baking sheet with parchment. Otherwise, preheat the oven before you intend to bake.
  8. Roll out the dough onto a flat floured surface. (Tip: Roll it out directly onto the parchment that you will be using for baking, this way you don't have to transfer the cut shapes and risk damaging them before they've even been baked!)
  9. Cut out your gingerbread shapes, and gather together the excess dough, knead, roll and cut more shapes until all the dough has been used. If you find your dough warming up too much between rollings, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. (Tip: To save time and make gingerbread cookies fresh for when you need them, cut all your shapes ahead of time, freeze and transfer them to a tightly sealed container. Thaw on a lined baking sheet before baking.)
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 9-11 minutes until golden, and cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  11. Make up a batch of royal icing, tinting as desired, to decorate your gingerbread cookies.
  12. If you'll be assembling gingerbread houses, use the royal icing as the 'glue' to hold the different bits together.

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