I’m over the moon! For ages I’ve wanted to make gingerbread men (I made a gingerbread cake last year). Thanks to growing up with the Famous Five and Secret Seven, ginger ale, picnic baskets with sandwiches, scones, Christmas vacations, winter mysteries, gingerbread cookies (yes!!!) were all part of my tween years. While a lot of these goodies are now easily available, Gingerbread cookies eluded me. I’ve never seen them at the supermarkets or bakeries.
Since I studies in a convent school, I have some lovely memories associated with Christmas – singing carols at school, the birth-of-Jesus plays, Christmas fruit cake (better known as plum cake in India) and unwrapping Christmas presents. The fascination with Christmas continued even after I finished school and went to college. I’d beg my father to buy me plum cake each Christmas.
Earlier this year, when my parents got me a HUGE set of Wilton cookie cutters from their US trip, I was overjoyed to see the gingerbread man cutter in it. However much I procrastinated, I knew these cookies would find their way into the over sooner than later! With Christmas round the corner and shops, bakeries and FB groups full of festive goodies, it was imperative that I finally, finally try my hands at these.
I made these cookies yesterday afternoon and iced them on a whim late yesterday night and I have to say I had loads of fun decorating them. Nothing quite spells Christmas like Gingerbread cookies and plum cake!
I made a couple of elephant-shaped cookies too for my year-and-a-half-old son whose favourite animal is ‘ya-ya’ (as he calls the elephant). This could have been thanks to his first book that has a cute elephant called Ellie that reminds the kiddie reader to observe table manners!
And even though he hardly eats cookies, I was overjoyed when he reached out for the elephant shaped ones excitedly shouting ‘ya-ya’ ya-ya’ all along. He played with them for a while and broke them in the process, but I guess I’m digressing here.
I rolled out the cookie dough somewhat thicker than the recipe suggests and had to bake for 19-20 minutes instead of the 12 minutes that it calls for. I’d definitely make them thinner next time. I love the ginger flavour, so kept the spice levels as mentioned in the recipe, even though I halved the other ingredients. I got 19 cookies, each about 4 inches tall. If you love the flavour of ginger and spiced cookies, you have to try this. If you do not have the gingerbread man cutter, simply cut them into circles.
I referred to the Eggless Royal Icing recipes in Gayathri’s Cook Spot and My Diverse Kitchen, but settled on The latter because that recipe includes a bit if lime juice in the icing which cuts down the excessive sweetness of the sugar. I halved the icing recipe and was still left with extra icing!
This morning, while I was setting up the pace to shoot these pictures, a friend of mine called up to excitedly announce that she was expecting. I was pretty excited too and packed up one gingerbread man and the gingerbread girl and tied blue and pink ribbons to them. I’m planning to give these to her with a card that says “Boy or girl, we’re excited too! Cute gift idea, and timely too, don’t you agree?
Gingerbread Men Cookies
Source – Joy of Baking
(makes 18-20 4-inch cookies)
Plain flour (APF/maida) – 1.5 cups (I used 200 gm)
Unsalted butter (room temperature) – 1/4 cup (I used 50 gm)
Granulated white sugar – 1/4 cup (50 gm)
Flax seed powder – 2 tsp mixed in 2 tbsp warm water (to replace half of a large egg that the recipe calls for)
Honey – 1/3 cup (to replace molasses called for in the recipe) *See Notes
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
Dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
Nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp
Powdered cloves – 1/4 tsp
Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl
Beat butter and sugar till fluffy (I used a hand mixer that I bought just last week. You could do this with a wooden spatula too or in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment)
Add the flax seed mix and honey and beat until well combined
Add the flour mixture a little at a time, beating until incorporated
Refrigerate the dough at least for a couple of hours or overnight
Preheat oven to 175 deg C and place rack in center of oven. Line the baking sheet with a parchment paper (I do not use the parchment sheet while baking cookies since my baking tray is non-stick)
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch and cut into desired shapes
Carefully lift the cookies onto the baking sheet, leaving a gap of an inch between them. If you plan to use these as decoration on your Christmas tree, make a hole at the top of the cookies. You can press in dry fruits like nuts or raisins for eyes and buttons at this stage or ice them after they’re baked
If cookies are a little soft, place the baking sheet (with the cookies) in the fridge for about 10 minutes to prevent the cookies from losing their shape
Bake for about 8 -12 minutes (mine took close to 20 minutes as I rolled them out much thicker). They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container
This post is part of the Bake-a-thon series (brain-child of Champa of Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen) wherein I’ll be blogging about baked goodies twice every week. Click on the link below to see more baked dishes from other wonderful bloggers