There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked gingerbread… it reminds me of Christmas because that’s when I first started making gingerbread, at the tender age of six, from a little cookbook Santa left under the tree for me.
The best thing about this recipe is that it is all natural, additive free and can accommodate for most common food allergies such as gluten and dairy intolerances. Even the icing on the cookies is coloured using natural fruit and vegetable juices (beetroot, spinach, blueberry and carrot)! The second best thing about this recipe is the fact that nothing goes to waste: you can use the cooked leftover gingerbread dough scraps to make a delicious ice cream treat! Who doesn’t like a little ice cream? Even Santa might like some…
One word of warning: gingerbread may turn rock-hard for a couple of days after baking. This is natural as all the moisture has been drawn out of it during baking. It will start softening again by drawing moisture from the environment, so don’t be alarmed. Perhaps only bear in mind that you should gift it a few days after it’s been made.
Makes around 50 small cookies
Gingerbread spice mix
Try to use the powdered spices where available, otherwise use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to pulverise. You can keep left over spice mix to add to banana bread or even a chocolate cake, or make an extra batch of cookies to share amongst your friends and family.
For the mix:
- 5 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1½ tsp cloves
- 1½ tsp cardamon seeds
- 1 tsp cilantro
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp star anise seeds (star pods discarded)
Place all powdered spices in a small bowl. Place all other whole spices and seeds into a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle and work until they become powdery. Combine with the remaining spice powders, mix and voila! Your home made gingerbread spice mix is ready!
Gingerbread cookies with traditional icing:
Gluten and dairy free substitutes are indicated in the ingredient list.
For the cookie dough:
- 250g plain flour
- 50g brown sugar
- 150g honey
- 60g butter
- ½ egg (break, beat lightly then measure out a rough half)
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 2 tbsp Gingerbread spice mix (see above)
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
For the traditional gingerbread icing:
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup icing sugar
- (vege and fruit juices to colour)
To make the cookies: place butter // or margarine, honey, sugar and spice mix into a small saucepan and heat on low, stirring until the butter melts. Set aside to cool.
Sift flour, bicarb soda and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the cooled butter, sugar and spice mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs.
Start working the dough with your hands until it has come together, take out onto a flat surface and knead until the dough is pliable and uniform in consistency.
Roll out in batches in between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to around 5mm and cut out shapes as desired. I found these great themed gingerbread cookie cutters at House.
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced, 350F, gas mark 4) and bake in batches for 6 to 8 minutes. If you’re planning to make the gingerbread ice cream, bake the left over scraps as well as that’s when they will come in handy!
To make the icing: beat egg white with sugar until glossy and stiff. Add colouring as required.
To decorate cookies: pipe onto cooled cookies with a piping bag, syringe or paint over with a clean paint brush. I used a toothpick to create the tiny dots once the icing has condensed a little. The glaze will harden over a couple of hours. To dilute just add a couple of drops of water and mix.
Gingerbread ice cream
Great tasting festive alternative to cookies and cream ice cream, that can be served on its own or with a hot apple pie.
For the ice cream:
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream // or dairy free or soy ice cream
- 40g gingerbread cookies from the above recipe // or store bought ones
Crush the biscuits in a small zip lock bag, add to the icecream and mash quickly with a fork to combine thoroughly. Place back in the freezer to set.