This weekend, I spent some time doing my favourite thing with my favourite person (my little brother, Joe), making his favourite thing: gingerbread. I’m quite surprised we actually had enough biscuits left to decorate after the rigorous rounds of quality control – i.e. eating – that he enforced at every stage. What can I say, he learnt from the best.
This recipe uses golden syrup, rather than dark muscovado sugar or treacle, to produce a light and slightly childish-flavoured biscuit, which – in my opinion – is exactly how gingerbread should be, and is also simple enough to make with your favourite mini sous chef.
350g plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
175g soft light brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
Preheat your oven to 160°C fan and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Mix the flour, ginger and bicarb in a bowl, then add the butter and rub in to form regular-sized crumbs.
Stir in the sugar, then add the egg and golden syrup and stir to combine roughly, before using your hands to bring the dough together. Depending on how heaped or otherwise your spoons of syrup were, you may need to add a little more to get all the flour from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a couple of times to bring into a neat ball. If you don’t want to have gingerbread coming out of your ears for the next week, you can freeze half the dough before rolling for use another time. We just ploughed ahead with the cutters.
Place your gingerbread shapes on the prepared baking trays with a centimetre or two between them to allow for spreading (you may have to do a few loads’ worth) and bake for 10 minutes. They will feel soft to the touch when you first remove them from the oven but should firm up within a minute or two.
If you want the biscuits to hold their shape without spreading, it helps to refrigerate them for 15 minutes on the trays before baking. It’s something I would normally do if I were making these for adult company, but it turns out that five year olds really aren’t that fussed about how uniform their shapes are.
Once the biscuits have cooled, decorate! We went old-school with Smarties and writing icing pens. If you want to make something a little more grown up (and seasonal), try buying a set of bauble-shaped cutters, decorating them with royal icing and tying ribbons through the top to hang on the Christmas tree or give as gifts.