This month on this blog has been all about festive and sweet bakes. It’s difficult to believe that I don’t have a sweet tooth and that I haven’t been eating much of the stuff I’ve baked so far, except to sneak the occasional thin slice of my fruit cake.
The festive baking bug seems to have bitten me big time and so you’re going to be seeing some of those recipes here this month. Come January and I promise you healthier recipes. I had promised myself that I was going to bake something gingerbread this season, and actually had plans to build a log cabin since I had already done a gingerbread house a couple of years back.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of spare time to indulge in creative baking in the past couple of months. I also postponed all plans for the log cabin plans for a later date since my daughter and I were supposed to build it together and she hasn’t been feeling too well.
I don’t like cookies much, but if there’s a cookie that’s not too sweet and packed with ginger I will give it a second look and take a bite too. I understand the emotion behind Shakespeare’s sentence in ” Love’s Labour Lost” where he says, “And I had but one penny in the world, thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread”
So the urge to make something gingerbread has stayed with me this month. Having made gingerbread men before, I thought I would bake some gingerbread cut-out cookies, as I haven’t baked cookies this season.
I also wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost my cookie decorating skills. These decorated gingerbread cookies satisfied my urge for a ginger-something and the creative side of me. I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed decorating them, despite the fact that I had a rather stiff neck by the time I was done with decorating them!
I’m not very good when it comes to decorating cakes but I can do a reasonably good job with piping and decorating cookies and I wanted to try out some new patterns. I couldn’t be bothered with colouring my icing so I decided to stay with a colour scheme of brown and white! Instead of using regular royal icing, I used my egg-free version because the lemon juice cuts down the sweetness of the icing and the tang complements the gingerbread cookie.
By the way, did you know that the first gingerbread men were said to have been produced for the amusement of Queen Elizabeth I for whom they were baked in the shapes of her favourite courtiers, and occasionally decorated with gold leaf!
Decorated Gingerbread Cookies.
(Adapted from MyRecipes)
Festive & Decorated Gingerbread Cookies
For The Cookies:
- 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsps ginger dried powder
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar Demerara
- 100 gm butter , softened
- 3 tbsps date syrup (or honey or molasses)
- 1 egg
For The Icing:
- 1 cup icing sugar sifted
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (or more, as required)
- Whisk together 2 1/4 cups of flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl till theyu2019re just mixed well.
- In another bowl beat the butter, sugar and date syrup, with a hand held mixer on medium speed, for a couple of minutes. Add the egg and beat for another minute.
- Now add the whisked flour and beat on low speed till it comes together. Lightly flour your hands and remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 portions. Pat each portion into a ball and then flatten it into a small disc. It will be a bit sticky which is fine. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours or even overnight like I did.
- Take the dough out, and leave it at room temperature if it seems hard. Let it soften until the dough can be shaped but is still cold. Once the dough warms up it will become very soft, sticky and difficult to manage or roll out.
- Very lightly flour your working surface and do not be tempted to add too much flour, as the cookies will become tough and chewy. Working with one portion at a time, roll it out to 1/8thu201d thickness and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
- Place the shapes on lightly greased or parchment lined sheet and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Then bake them at 180C (350F) for 8 to 10 minutes till the edges of the cookies start browning. Do not let the cookies became too dark.
- Let them cool completely on racks and store them in airtight containers till youu2019re ready to decorate them. These cookies are delicious even without the icing,
- Prepare the icing by mixing together icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thick, almost viscous icing. Make sure your icing sugar is sifted and has no lumps. Spoon the icing into a piping bag. Snip off a very small part of the tip and decorate the cookies as desired. Remember that this icing isnu2019t as hard as regular Royal icing, so if youu2019re planning to pack and mail them, you will need to be very careful.