It has become a family tradition the last couple of years to make gingerbread for Christmas, but most of all to make a gingerbread house. My 5-year old is specifically keen on this as he loves the idea of leaving a tiny gingerbread house under the tree for Santa. And I’m sure Santa appreciates out efforts! Last year at least, he ate tiny bits of the the roof and drank the milk we left for him so we’re having high hopes for this year. New year, new Christmas, same customs! I’m planning to keep this tradition going the following years as well so you’ll be seeing more gingerbread houses year after year!
This gingerbread recipe is the same as last year and the year before and the year before that. It’s my most reliable recipe and I love that it’s not sensitive to changes at all, a bit more flour or an egg that’s too large won’t affect it’s texture. It yields an easy-to-work-with dough that can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days without problems. Moreover, the dough rolls without hassle and it isn’t sticky at all. My favorite part though is that I can knead the leftovers of the dough back into a ball or disc without having an impact on the texture of the dough. I’ve experienced recipes in the past which couldn’t stand kneading as it destroyed the texture, the dough didn’t rise anymore or changed its color, became crumbly or too sticky and just had to throw it away. But it’s not the case with this one – it’s probably the only recipe in the world that I made more than 10 times so far, that much I trust this recipe! I don’t usually make the same recipe multiple times, but when you find the perfect gingerbread recipe you just wanna hold on to it forever!
The baked gingerbread it can be either soft or dry, depending on how long you bake it and it can be stored for up to 1 month in a dark, chilled place. Last year, with all the Christmas treats we had, we kept the gingerbread house for 3 weeks and it was better and better, somehow it improved it’s texture in time and it tasted great! One batch of dough is more than enough for a small, medium or even larger gingerbread house, but the great thing is that the dough is so easy to make that you can quickly mix another batch if you need to.
I particularly love the fragrance of baked gingerbread – ginger, cinnamon, orange zest, vanilla – all in one tiny treat! It’s time to unleash the Christmas spirit and make an army of gingerbread men!
The recipe calls for golden syrup, but I didn’t have it on hand the first time I made it so I found a replacer – a thick caramel syrup that I made at home. And even so, the recipe worked out great. See notes below to learn how to make your own syrup.
Spiced Gingerbread Men
- Gingerbread dough:
- 220 g butter (softened)
- 150 g sugar (I used white, but brown is just as good)
- 230 ml golden syrup (see notes below)
- 30 g dark molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 800 g all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 teapsoon lemon juice
- 210 g powdered sugar (sifted)
- Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix for 5 minutes until creamy and fluffy.
- Stir in the egg and mix well.
- Add the golden syrup and molasses, as well as the orange zest and vanilla extract and mix well. At this point, the mixture might look curdles, especially if there was a temperature difference between the butter and egg, but that's ok, you're on the right path.
- Sift the flour with ginger, cinnamon, pepper, baking soda and salt.
- Incorporate 3/4 of the flour into your butter mixture and add the remaining flour gradually. Depending on a few factors, like humidity and how large the egg was, you might need more or less flour. I find that 800g is the best quantity, but you might need 50g+/-. It is best to knead the dough to the end and only add enough flour to make a dough that is soft and easy to work with, but doesn't stick to your hands and can be rolled easily. Don't add more than 850g flour as the dough will be too stiff and rolling later on will be difficult.
- Once the dough done, wrap it in a plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, place the dough on a floured working surface and roll it into a 1/4-inch thick sheet.
- Using gingerbread men cookie cutters, cut small or large cookies and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- I used the same dough for the gingerbread house you see below - all you need is a pattern you like and you're good to go!
- Bake the gingerbread men in the preheated oven at 350F - 180C for 10-15 minutes just until the edges begin to turn golden brown. If you want to store the cookies for a longer time though, I recommend baking a few more minutes to dry them out slightly.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.
- Spoon the icing into a small piping bag and decorate the cookies and gingerbread house.