Who doesn’t love a gingerbread man? These fun and full-of-character biscuits are centuries old – Elizabeth I of England used to have them created to resemble her important guests. Nowadays they appear in almost every bakery and cafe. These ones are cheeky with a simple dipping of arms and legs in colourful icing.
- 125 g unsalted butter, softened
- 90 g (½ cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
- 235 g (160 ml / ⅔ cup) golden syrup
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract or essence
- 375 g (2 ½ cups) plain flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 185 g (1 ½ cups) pure icing sugar
- 25 ml (5 tsp) boiling water
- food colour of your choice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 20 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and vanilla and beat to combine. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined and a soft dough forms. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Shape each into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with baking paper.
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out one portion of dough (leave the remaining portion in the fridge) on a lightly floured bench top to 5 mm thick. Use an 10 cm tall gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes and then carefully transfer the shapes to the prepared oven trays using a palette knife, leaving a little room between each for spreading. Re-roll any scraps to make more shapes. Discard any off cuts from the second rolling. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread dough portion.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits are just starting to colour and are cooked through. Cool on the trays.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually add 30 ml (6 teaspoons) of the boiling water and mix until smooth. The icing should be a coating consistency (see Baker’s tips). If it is too thick stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of boiling water and then test the consistency again. Divide the icing among a number of bowls and tint each with a different food colouring to desired colours.
Dip the hands and/or feet of the gingerbread men into the icing, allow any excess to dip off. Place on a wire rack, top side up, and set aside for 30 minutes or until the icing sets.
• To test if the icing is the correct consistency for dipping, drizzle a little on a plate and set aside for a few minutes. If it keeps its shape it is ready to use.
• Store these biscuits in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: childhood favourites.