Stalls selling gingerbread were firm fixtures at fairs for centuries, and Elizabeth I is recorded as giving gingerbread figures as gifts. Why not take inspiration from foodie fashions of the past and add in extra flavours – such as anise or caraway seeds, citrus zest, or even finely chopped and candied peel? Alternatively, designs piped in white icing look great against the dark biscuits.
Serves 10-12 Total Time 45 mins, plus chilling time.
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- Pinch of salt
- 100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 100g light soft brown sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 large egg yolk
- 200g icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
- Red food colouring paste (optional)
- Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and pinch of salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine sand. Now add the sugar and pulse again until combined.
- Combine the golden syrup and egg yolk in a small bowl, then pour the mixture into the food processor. Pulse until the dough starts to come together.
- Tip it onto a clean work surface and gently knead the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hr.
- Lightly dust the work surface with plain flour and roll the dough out to a thickness of 5mm.
- Use a gingerbread man cutter to stamp out shapes, then arrange them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between each biscuit.
- Gather any dough scraps together, re-roll and stamp out more gingerbread men, or smaller round biscuits.
- Chill the raw biscuits for 20 mins while you preheat the oven to 180ºC/160°fan/gas 4.
- Bake for about 12 mins until starting to brown slightly at the edges. The biscuits will still be soft, so leave to cool on the baking sheets.
- To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and, beating constantly, then gradually add enough lemon juice to make a smooth icing that holds a firm ribbon trail.
- Scoop all but 2 tbsps of icing into a disposable piping bag. Snip the end into a fine point and use to decorate the biscuits with a pattern of your choice.
- If you would like to add another colour to your decoration, add a tiny amount of red food colouring to the reserved 2 tbsp of icing, transfer to an icing bag, as above, then use to pipe red buttons, scarves or boots on your biscuits.
- Leave to set for 1 hr before eating or using as decorations.