iced gingerbread men and womenIf there’s one Christmas treat I refuse to live without – it’s gingerbread.  To me gingerbread is a bit like ginger ale – I don’t like all kinds – but when done well I’m a complete & utter addict!!

This is my mother’s recipe that I grew up with.  Like all gingerbread, it’s simple – but it’s perfect each and every time.  You can cook it to a crisp or you can cook it as I prefer to where it’s crunchy on the outside but lovely and soft on the inside.  Gingerbread doesn’t get much better than this!!

The cooking time is quite variable simply because it depends on the size of your cookie cutters & the thickness that you roll your dough.  Just watch it cook in the oven.  When the whole cookie puffs up (kind of like how you would watch a pancake rise), you know that it’s cooked through and can either retrieve it right there and then or allow it to cook for a few more minutes to get a firmer result.

I generally bake a double batch each time – the first half to make gingerbread men (it makes about 60 medium sized gingerbread men), and the second half to have a play around with different shapes (though usually just stars & hearts).  So without further a-do – here is the secret recipe…

INGREDIENTS
450 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
100 g unsalted butter
225 g soft brown sugar
175 g treacle
2 tbsp evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 175C.

Sift flour, salt, bicarbonate, cinnamon & ginger into a bowl.  {I do this by popping everything into my Kitchenaid mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds.}01 sift dry ingredients01A dry ingredients sifted

Melt the butter, sugar & treacle (but do not allow it to boil).  {You can either do this in the microwave or in a small saucepan on a stove (which I find is the easier option when dealing with a double batch).}02 melt butter, sugar and treacle02A all melted

Cool a little, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.03 add to the dry ingredients

Add enough evaporated milk to be able to knead it into a firm pastry.04 add enough evaporated milk to make it into a firm pastry

Roll it out and cut it into shapes.05 roll out06 cut into shapes

Place your shapes onto lined baking trays.07 place on lined baking trays and bake for 8-15 minutes

Bake in the oven for anywhere between 6-15 minutes. {But make sure you watch your first batch like a hawk!!}08 baked gingerbreadCool on a wire rack.

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After you’ve made them, we usually ice them with royal icing and my mother usually loads them up with a bevy of delicious sweets which will convert any child with disdain of gingerbread into a true gingerbread lover.  Each of my mother’s gingerbread men and women are always unique with their own personalities and dress codes (she’s ridiculously creative)!

But this year, given my toddler and I were doing our very own batches, I decided to mix things up a little and stuck with red, white & green royal icing, with some accompanying mini M&Ms and edible pearls…  Simple but still loads of fun!  This was my production line..10 my gingerbread men and women

To give them away, I do as my mother does and package them into confectioners bags because I agree – it gives them a little bit of gloss, keeps them nice & fresh, and makes them seem a touch more special…11 packaging them up to give away

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