As a child I would make sure I was taken to all the places that would host gingerbread houses. I was in awe of the magnificent structures, some made with sugar, some from candies and still others from cookies. It was a human marvel. And then came Santa, the big man with a red clothes, a flowy white beard with a bagful of lovely gifts. He charmed me off my two little pink boots. I hated growing up and losing Santa to reality. But the love for the gingerbread man only grew with time. And then I learnt to bake these wholesome warm and crisp cookies on my own. The best day of my life!
This time the first batch of cookies was baked for a niece and nephew’s Christmas party. It was a Saturday afternoon in the first week of December, when the aromas of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves emerged from the oven as the cookies started to crisp up. And then came the pleasure of icing the gingerbread men and giving them some colour and style to meet the kiddies pleasure.
Sure enough the cookies were gobbled up faster than they took to be baked. I’ve used an eggless recipe here and used hand powdered spices to give it their wholesome flavours and texture. I’ve also not powdered my brown sugar to fine, so my gingerbread man are full of freckles. What’s more as we don’t get molasses too easily in Mumbai, I’ve used organic honey instead.
Makes: 25 cookies
Total time: 2 hour
Cooling time: minimum 60 mins
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 12 minute per tray
Skill Levels: Basic, icing may need a bit of practise though
Equipment needed: Hand held blender, Oven
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (you can use self rising flour too, in that case do away with the baking powder and baking soda)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup tightly packed fine brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 50 grams of butter (if using salted butter, avoid adding salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon power
- 1/4 teaspoon clove powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 Cream the butter. Add the sugar to it and beat till light and fluffy.
2. Add the honey and blend it in.
3. Sieve in the flour and mix the hand pounded spice into the mix. Now use a wooden spatula and mix it well. You should have a non-sticky dough.
4. Flatten the dough into a disc. Cling wrap it and cool it for at least an hour.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree centigrade.
6. Pull the dough out of the fridge and roll it between 2 butter papers till you get a 0.5 cm thick disk. Use a cookie cutter to cut your cookies and place them on a tray to bake. Make sure to keep enough space between the cookies. Roll the remaining dough into a disc again and cut out the second lot of cookies. Make sure you get the most number of cookies out in each roll as the texture will change, as you re-roll the dough.
7. Bake for 12 minutes at 180 degree centigrade till the edges are nice and brown. Cool the cookies on a wire rack and store till you are ready to ice them.
To make the royal icing:
8. Make as many colours of icing as you wish in this manner. I’ve used red, white and green colours. Dress your gingerbread man and let it cool till the icing sets.
9. Your gingerbread man cookies are ready!