It’s been a frustrating few days the weather has been grim, grey and gloomy and my current knitting project isn’t working out. Knitted Christmas present production has slowed up. An afternoon of baking seemed a quicker way of making a few gifts and with a little judicious planning there would be a few left to taste test – instant gratification!
Gold leaf is not your average store cupboard ingredient so there was no gilding of the gingerbread but everything else was to hand and iced gingerbread looks instantly festive. Best of all the finished biscuits can be kept for weeks. My Norwegian friends make gingerbread part of their Christmas decorations and don’t eat them until two weeks later in one massive sugar blow-out. Just let any ultra keen recipient know that if they eat them immediately to nibble cautiously, when first baked they are suitably robust.
450g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
225g soft brown sugar
4 tbsps golden syrup
2 tbsps black treacle
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and spices and make a well in the centre.
Melt together the butter, sugar, syrup and treacle in a small saucepan over a low heat.
Cool for 5 – 10 minutes then pour into the well in the flour, add the egg and mix to form a soft smooth dough. Knead lightly, cover and chill for at least half an hour.
Just before baking grease two to three baking sheets or line with non-stick paper and preheat the oven to 170 C fan / 180 C / gas 4.
Bring the dough to room temperature then roll out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 4-5mm. Cut into shapes with festive cutters or use an upturned floured wine glass to cut circles. Keep re-rolling the trimmings until all the dough has been used.
Carefully transfer to the prepared baking trays with a palette knife, spacing well apart to allow them to spread. You don’t want them too cosy so you’ll probably have to bake in batches.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes rotating the trays half-way through cooking. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
While the biscuits are cooling prepare the royal icing and a paper piping bag.
Here’s a video link for a piping bag but I would cut the triangles of paper in half for such a small decorating job.
For the icing:
1 egg white
200g icing sugar
1/2 tsp liquid glucose
1 tsp lemon juice
Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl.
Beat the egg white until frothy then gradually beat in the icing sugar a spoonful at a time.
Stir in the glycerine and lemon juice.
The icing should hold soft peaks that fold over at the tops. If it is too stiff add a little more lemon juice.
Fit the paper piping bag with a small plain nozzle if you have one or just cut a little off the tip. Fill with icing and decorate your biscuits as extravagantly as you like.
Leave to dry completely, pack into gift bags or just tuck in yourself!