Gingerbread for grandchildren

Short recipe at bottom of page.

Here is some gingerbread I made today (I am seeing my grandsons tomorrow and they love gingerbread men)

0232-18onrack

and here is a little story and recipe.

On Boxing Day I had all the family to tea. That is my three children and two husbands and three grandchildren.

I had stollen and the cake I showed you for the grown-ups but thought it would be a good idea to also have some gingerbread men for the grandchildren. My eldest is also particularly fond of anything with ginger in it, as am I.

The morning was a bit hectic and I spent most of it cooking but I asked my granddaughter who was staying with me to help make the gingerbread men. Now as she is ten I thought it would be safe to let her melt the butter and sugar and syrup in a pan. I kept an eye on her while doing other things but when I thought it all should be melted she said that no it wasn’t quite ready. So I let her keep stirring for a bit longer. This was in fact a mistake. When we had finally mixed up everything it was very hot and took until after lunch to cool. When I had cut out and cooked the gingerbread it was very, very hard and I realised that the sugar must have cooked too much. I served the gingerbread anyway but it was so sad to see my youngest grandchild, who is two, putting the gingerbread man in his mouth but being unable to eat it because it was so hard.

I didn’t photograph the gingerbread men at the time but here are a couple of gingerbread snowflakes I made for the grown-ups.  The odd patches you can see are some crystallised ginger that I added.

hardgingerbread

I did eat them all up in the end because I hate wasting food but they were very, very hard.

Later I decided that I ought to make some more gingerbread which I did and this time it was much more succesful.

Now I have always found gingerbread dough hard to handle, especially when trying to transfer the gingerbread men to the baking sheet. Some recipes seemed worse than others and I had put together a satisfactory recipe but I used to think longingly of the recipe I had found once in a library book for gingerbread snakes where the dough was wonderfully easy to handle and could even be moulded satisfactorily by children into gingerbread snakes.

After the disaster at Christmas I decided to modify my recipe to avoid any danger of the same thing happening again.

I made just one change which was to replace the dark brown sugar with icing sugar that I didn’t melt but mixed in with the flour. I melted the butter and the molasses (I used mollasses rather than syrup for the colour) as quickly as possible taking it off the heat before it was fully mixed.

This gave a dough that was very reminiscent of that gingerbread snake dough so I was very pleased and it will be my recipe of choice in future.

So in case any of you would like to try it here is my recipe for  gingerbread men complete with photographs.

First take 8oz of flour.

2 teaspoons of ground ginger,

½ teaspoon of cinnamon (optional),

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda,

and put in a large mixing bowl.

0232-01flourplus

Add 4oz icing sugar sieved.

0232-02icingsugar

Of course you can sieve all the dry ingredients if you like. It does help to mix in the spices.

Then you need to put

4oz butter or margarine,

2 tablespoons of golden syrup or molasses (or one of each)

0232-03molasses&syrup

in a saucepan on a low heat.

0232-04molasses&syrup&butter

When the butter is half melted you can take off the heat as it will continue to melt and you won’t be over heating it.

Mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the flour, sugar etc in the mixing bowl and pour in the melted mixture.

0232-05wellfilled

You can see the window in the photo as the bowl was placed near it to get the best light.

Then add one or two tablespoons of milk.

0232-06milk

But it doesn’t need to be whole milk or organic that is just my little indulgence.

To make a firm dough

0232-07dough

Now, if you haven’t already, get out your cutters

0232-08cutters

I don’t have my first gingerbread man cutter as it went rusty. The two plastic ones are what I used when my children were small – as I had two girls and a boy of course we had to make gingerbread women as well as gingerbread men. The broken one and the snowflake cutter are ones I bought before Christmas as part of a pack of four for £1 from one of these cheap shops. As you can see the gingerbread cutter didn’t survive cutting the hard dough. The intact small gingerbread man cutter is one I bought the other day at John Lewis for a pound.

Today I am using the small metal one and the snowflake cutter because of course, as you know, I love snowflakes.

Flour the work surface and get out a rolling pin.

0232-09readytoroll

and roll out ¼inch thick.

0232-12doughrolled

I tried to fit as many shapes in as I could.

0232-13doughcut

This dough because it is so maleable is more forgiving for the second, third, fourth rolling than pastry.

I had taken a bit of dough off the ball before I rolled it out and made some snakes. Remembering that book and just to show you that it works.

A wiggly one

0232-10snake1

and in case that didn’t handle well when cooked – a coiled one.

0232-11snake2

I am sure you and your children could make better ones. I’ve never been very good at shaping food with my hands.

Place the cut out pieces on a greased baking sheet or two.  I find a fish slice is even better than a palette knife for this.

0232-15onbakingsheet2

Space well apart.

0232-14onbakingsheet1

Now is the time to decorate the gingerbread men.

I know some people do this after they are cooked with icing but my handling of icing is worse than making snakes so I use currants and glace cherries.

So take some currants and glace cherries.

0232-16currants&cherries

And use these to give the gingerbread men, eyes, mouths and buttons.

0232-17gingerbreadmen

This before and after picture is to give an idea of how much the gingerbread men spread. As you can see I left more than enough room.

Then cook for 10-20 minutes at 350deg F or 170deg C. I use 160deg in my fan oven.

Leave to cool on a baking sheet.

0232-18onrack

And then maybe a granny can have one of the snowflakes with her coffee while she sits down to create this post.

0232-19onplate

Here is the basics of the recipe again.

In a large mixing bowl combine

8oz of flour,

2 teaspoons of ground ginger,

½ teaspoon of cinnamon (optional),

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda,

4oz icing sugar.

In a saucepan melt, gently and as little as necessary,

4oz butter or margarine,

2 tablespoons of golden syrup or molasses (or one of each).

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the melted mixture together with

1 or 2 tablespoons of milk.

Make into a firm dough.

Roll dough out ¼inch thick.

Cut out shapes and place on a greased baking sheet.

Cook at 350 deg F, 170deg C (160deg -Fan oven) for 10-20 minutes.

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9 thoughts on “Gingerbread for grandchildren

    1. The ends are no longer flexible enough to remove but it is pyrex and designed to be filled with cold water especially when making pastry which is best when everything is kept cool. Was a ‘bottom drawer’ present from a friend when I was in my late teens.

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  1. I really love gingerbread and cannot remember when I last had any. That is terribly sad. I’m going to keep your recipe and make these one day soon – I still have the gingerman cookie cutter than my gran used to use. No snowflakes, though, so I might try some hearts…. 🙂

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