Sunday 23 December 2012

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies – Two Ways

There are some foods and holiday baking traditions that are essential for helping me feel Christmassy. One is making my Christmas cake and another is making and decorating Christmas Gingerbread Cookies.

There is something so unique about the aroma of baking gingerbread that instantly makes me feel festive. The scent of warming spices and liquoricey treacle wafting through the house makes me feel content and happy. It’s also a great excuse to hunt out all the weird and wonderful Christmas cookie cutters that I’ve gathered over the years.

Once baked, the cookies look great as they are but I also enjoy decorating them afterwards. I took some of the undecorated cookies round my boyfriends and had fun showed him how to wield a piping bag. Something he’d never done before. He got quite good after a few attempts. Plus, it created the perfect excuse to eat any that were part of the trail and error decorating process. I also took some into work where they quickly disappeared. (Sorry for the quality of the photos, it was dark!)

The recipe below makes rather a lot of cookies. I only ended up using half of it to bake Christmas cookies. I hated to think of the rest of the dough going to waste and decided to try and make gingerbread crinkle cookies with the rest of it. I got the idea from the chocolate crinkle cookies I made recently, the dough felt similar so I thought it would work.

I rolled balls of gingerbread dough thickly in icing sugar and baked them. The cookie dough seemed to devour most of the icing sugar during baking which was a shame, but it did leave them with a thin crisp sugar crust, which was a nice touch.

The baked cookies were still soft and tender inside, a sort of cake-cookie hybrid. They reminded me a lot of German Lebkuchen ginger cookies, very tasty and the ideal way to use up the leftover dough.

Are there any holiday baking traditions you have to help give you the festive feeling?

Gingerbread Christmas Cookies
Ingredients185g butter
200g soft brown sugar
330g gluten free plain flour
1 egg
2 tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp black treacle
¼ tsp xanthan gum

To DecorateRoyal icing

MethodCream together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg followed by the black treacle.
Add the spices and sift over the flour and xanthan gum. Using a spatula, work the flour into the batter until a dough is formed. Use your hands towards the end to bring the mix into a dough. It will seem too dry as first but don’t be tempted to add any liquid as it does suddenly come together.
Kneed it gently until smooth. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and flatten slightly into a disc. Place in the fridge for 30minutes to firm up.
After 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 175C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Cut the dough in half and working with one piece at a time, roll it out on a floured surface until 4mm thick. Cut out a variety of shapes using festive cutters and place on the baking trays. They don’t spread so you can place them quite close together. Try and bake shapes of a similar size together, rather than having a mix of small and large cookies on the same tray, as these will bake at different times.
Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes (depending on size) until lightly golden and just starting to brown around the edges. They will be quite soft.
Allow to cool and firm up for 2 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Once cooled, decorate with royal icing and store in an airtight container.
Makes 45-55 cookies depending on size.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookie dough (above)
Icing sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Take heaped teaspoonfuls of the ginger cookie dough and roll into balls.
Place a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar into a bowl.
Roll the ginger cookie balls in the icing sugar, making sure they are thickly coated. Only do 2-3 at a time.
Place the cookie balls onto the baking tray and bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
They will be slightly flattened and still soft to the touch.
Allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Store in an airtight container and eat within 3 days.


The Caked Crusader said...

Wow - your piping is so neat and even. Lovely looking biscuits
Happy Christmas!

Chandra Merod said...

I also love making cookies at Christmas! This morning I woke to the smell of peanut butter blossoms it reminds me of when I was a child. Your gingerbread cookies look good!

Cupcake Crazy Gem said...

These look so pretty Katie and your gingerbread kept it's shape perfectly - they would make awesome Christmas tree decorations! I made gingerbread cookies for our trees but unfortunately they spread a bit and weren't as dainty as I was hoping for! Happy Christmas - hope you have a great break filled with delicious treats! :)

Johanna GGG said...

merry christmas - hard to believe that your two batches of biscuits come from the same dough - and I would love you to show me how to pipe icing some perfectly - mince pies are essential to my christmas - I don't always bake them but my mum does

Caroline said...

They look great - fab decorations and I know just what you mean about that lovely Christmassy scent - all the delicious spices. Yum.