Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
30ml full cream milk
50ml golden syrup
125g butter (unsalted)
750g cake flour
125ml brown sugar
5ml bicarbonate of soda
5ml ground cinnamon
10ml ground ginger
1 egg white
10ml lemon juice
250g icing sugar
How to make gingerbread men:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Heat the milk, golden syrup and butter together in a glass jug in the microwave for one minute. Leave it to cool and add one egg.
Sift all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add the egg mixture and mix to form a smooth dough.
Cover the dough with clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 3mm.
Cut out the gingerbread men with a cookie cutter.
Tip: Use a straw to make a hole through the head to hang them on a Christmas tree.
Arrange the gingerbread men on the prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
How to make royal icing and decorate:
Combine the lemon juice and egg whites and mix with a wire whisk for 20 seconds.
In a stand mixer, combine the lemon juice and egg white mixture with the sugar, adding the sugar a little at a time.
Decorate the gingerbread men with sweets and secure with royal icing.
Did you know?
- The first English recorded recipe for gingerbread was created in 1390. Initially the recipe involved soaking stale breadcrumbs in ginger and honey.
- Communities used gingerbread to commemorate holidays and celebrations because the mixture was so easy to mold into a wide variety of images suitable for every occasion.
- In the North East of England it became traditional for young women to eat gingerbread “husbands” on Halloween to supernaturally attract men.
- Witches used gingerbread men like voodoo dolls. They would bake figures that represented their enemies and eat them.
- In 1607 the magistrates of Delft in the Netherlands made it illegal to bake or eat the biscuits.
- In Germany you had to belong to a gingerbread guild if you wanted to bake gingerbread men.
- Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III had gingerbread molded in his likeness as a sort of mass marketing political campaign.
- Queen Elizabeth I commissioned life-sized gingerbread sculptures of her favourite suitors and courtiers to impress her guests.
- The English tradition of gingerbread men made its way to North America via English colonists, who shaped honey-spice cookies like politicians.