• Polish gingerbread (pierniczki) (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

In Poland at Christmas, honey rye pierniczki are traditionally cut into hearts, rounds or shapes resembling Santa Claus, decorated with icing or a chocolate glaze and given to children on Saint Nicholas’ Day (December 6). They also make gorgeous hanging decorations.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (53 votes)


  • 300 g (2 cups) plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 180 g (1¼ cups) rye flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 175 g (½ cup) honey


Royal icing

  • 1 egg white
  • 185 g (1½ cups) pure icing sugar, sifted

Cook's notes

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.


Standing time 30 minutes

Cooling time 20 minutes

Chilling time 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Line three Large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.

Sift together the flours, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Whisk in the honey until well combined and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted. Add the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to mix to a firm dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured benchtop and knead lightly to bring together until smooth. Dived the dough in three portions and shape each into a disc. Wrap two portions in plastic wrap and set aside.

Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the unwrapped portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface until 4 mm thick. Use an 8 cm heart-shaped cutter to cut out the dough, re-rolling and cutting out any off-cuts. Place on the lined trays about 3 cm apart. Use the end of a straw the remove a hole form the top of each heart, if desired. Repeat with the remaining dough portions.

Bake one tray of biscuits at a time in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the biscuits are a deep golden colour. Cool on the tray (this will take about 20 minutes). Repeat with the remaining two trays of biscuits.

To make the royal icing, place the egg white in a medium bowl and use a wooden spoon to beat until slightly frothy. Beat in the icing sugar a spoonful at a time until the icing reaches a piping consistency. Divide the icing between two snap-lock bags and seal. Make a small cut in the corner of each bag to create a hole for piping. Decorate the biscuits as desired with the icing and then set aside for at least 30 minutes to set before serving, threading ribbon through the holes to hang, or storing.


Baker’s tip

• These biscuits will keep in an airtight container, separated by baking paper, at room temperature for up to 1 month.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.


This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Festive cookies column. 

View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.


Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.