I planned to bake some gingerbread men this year, as my gift to the family. The only thing in the way was I couldn’t find a gingerbread recipe that fitted what I wanted – a version that was very strong, for the person who likes ginger sprinkled on their ginger; and a version with no ginger, for the ginger hater.
So I made the recipes up. As these recipes are mine, all mine, and not copyrighted to anyone but me, I’m posting them for the world (and if you thought I was joking in the blog tagline about random tangents, now you know it’s for real… though this is the first time I’ve posted a recipe). It’s a pretty standard gingerbread recipe, apart from the seasoning. But still, I can feel a certain amount of yayfulness for making it up and it working.
(In the end, I preferred the vanillabread men to the strong gingerbread men, but the family were split on which they preferred, so I take that as success).
Strong Gingerbread Men / Vanillabread Men
Most of the recipe is the same for gingerbread and vanillabread, other than a few exchanges of ingredients. Where the vanillabread differs, the difference is in square brackets, like so – [VM: Only do this for vanillabread!]
Makes about 12-15 biscuits, depending on the size/shape of your cutters. Don’t forget to buy some stuff to decorate them afterwards.
- 175g (6 oz) black treacle (molasses) [VM: Honey instead of treacle]
- 115g (4 oz) soft dark brown sugar [VM: White sugar instead of brown]
- 1 large egg
- 25g (1 oz) unsalted butter
- 450g (1 lb) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 pinch of salt
GINGERBREAD MEN SEASONING:
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
VANILLABREAD MEN SEASONING:
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Mix the treacle, sugar, butter and egg together. This is easier if you get the butter out a little bit before, so it has time to warm up and soften. [VM: Also add the vanilla extract here.]
2. Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, bicarb, salt and dry seasoning).
3. Add dry ingredients to the soggy ingredients. Everything should now be in the mixing bowl. If the mix is too dry, add a splash of cold water. The final mix should be firm, smooth and difficult to stir… you don’t want it runny, so only add enough water to mix in the ingredients. (For reference, the strong gingerbread needed half a cup and the vanillabread only needed a splash. This may vary depending on the exact ingredients you’ve used.)
4. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour.
5. Once cool, the dough should be reasonably firm. If not, add a little more flour.
6. Roll out to about half a cm (1/4 inch) thick and cut out shapes. Make sure to dust the surface and the rolling pin with flour, or it’ll stick.
7. Place men on a tray – either lightly greased or covered in non-stick baking paper (I used paper, as one sheet will last for all the batches and it’s easier to remove the cooked biscuits). Cook for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 C / Gas mark 4.
8. Place on a wire tray to cool.
9. Decorate when cool with whatever you want. I used icing, sweets, crystallised ginger and edible silver spray.
Strong Gingerbread Biscuits (Left) and Vanillabread Biscuits (Right)
TASTE TIP: Strong gingerbread tastes slightly bitter, and isn’t like the stuff in the shops. It can be a bit surprising if you’re not used to it. If you want a less extreme basic gingerbread, swap the treacle out for some sort of light syrup/honey, and cut down the ground ginger to one teaspoon. You can also swap the dark brown sugar for light brown sugar or white.
ZOMBIE TIP: It comes out of the oven soft, but hardens as it cools. Don’t cook for longer than 10 mins as it’ll cool so hard you can use it as ammunition in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
PHOTO TANGENT: If you see a recipe claiming to include treacle and dark brown sugar, and the gingerbread is light golden brown, it’s a stock photo or they didn’t really use treacle. Treacle gingerbread comes out dark, as pictured here, because treacle is black. Always beware following a recipe no one has actually tried…