Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

Plain flour 400g
Bicarbonate of Soda 3/4 tsp
Ground Ginger 2 tsp
Ground Cinnamon 2 tsp
Ground Mixed Spice 1/2 tsp
Ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Unsalted Butter 180g (at room temperature)
Soft Dark Brown Sugar or Dark Muscovado 125g
Egg x1
Black Treacle or Golden Syrup 125g

Royal Icing (optional)

Egg white x 1
Freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 tsp
Icing Sugar, sifted 310g

Biscuit (Cookie) Cutters
Baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and all spices in a large bowl and set aside.

Mix together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on a low level, until it is a smooth consistency. Turn the mixer to a medium speed as you add the Treacle or Syrup, and add the eggs one by one. Make sure the mixture is well combined then gradually add the flour mixture. (At this point I have found that it is helpful to use the dough-kneading attachments for the mixture rather than the regular baking attachments. They are usually a long spiral shape; if you have them I would recommend using them for an easier mixing process)

Once a dough mixture is formed, divide the mixture into two or three parts and wrap with cling film.Leave to rest in the fridge overnight (or a few hours, if you are impatient like me)!

When taking the dough out of the fridge allow to soften for 10mins. Lightly dust the work surface with flour before rolling out and cutting shapes. Place the cut cookies on the baking tray (remember to lay down the grease proof paper) and bake for 10-15mins. Turn out onto a wire wrack to cool before decorating.

Note that the cookies will come out of the oven feeling soft, but as long as they have baked for a minimum of 15mins they will be cooked throughout.

Tip 1: Lightly base each cookie with milk, using a pastry brush before placing in the oven. This will give the cookies less of a pasty colour.

Tip 2: I also tend to place a sheet of grease proof paper on the wire rack before turning out the cookies, so that they do not stick to the rack. This tip is also good for most cakes and bakes.

For the icing, beat the egg white and lemon juice together with an electric mixer or handheld whisk. Gradually add the icing sugar, making sure that it is well mixed. (I tend to sift icing sugar before use to avoid excessive lumps) Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes stiffer with peaks. If the icing remains runny then continue to add more sugar. For variation, add a few drops of food colouring to the icing. Decorate the cookies using a piping bag once cooled. Alternatively, if you are not a huge icing fan you can dust the cookies with Icing sugar.

Serve the cookies the traditional American way, with a glass of milk, or the British way with a cup of tea or Mulled wine.

Gingerbread Men

(Recipe taken from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, 2009)