Every year I get a bit ambitious and try to do too much over Christmas, this year was no exception. I had left all my shopping last minute had to make a last minute dash to the shops to get everything done in time.
Another one of my impossible tasks was to make a gingerbread house based on the gingerbread men recipe in the first Hummingbird Bakery book. My first mistake was that I didn’t realise that you had to let the dough rest overnight. I had way too much to do the next day (Christmas Eve!) so I gave up on my gingerbread house idea and settled for gingerbread men.
I started making the dough by mixing the sugar and butter first and beating in the egg and treacle. Now I’ve never experienced black treacle before and was slightly intrigued/disgusted by what I saw! It looked like crude oil! But I had faith in the recipe and carried on.
I then added the flour bit by bit, along with all the spices and bicarbonate of soda. I was definitely excited about the amount of spices going into the recipe. Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg not only creates this beautiful Christmassy aroma when cooking, it makes everything taste great!
My baby whisk was starting to make crazy noises again, a regular occurrence now and I hoped that it wouldn’t break before finishing the dough. Thankfully it made it through and I managed to get the dough mixed, I wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge overnight.
The next day brought with it the task of cutting out the gingerbread shapes and baking them. As I made twice the amount of dough to have enough for the gingerbread house, I had a lot of gingerbread mean to cut out. They cookies only needed 9 minutes in my oven before they were perfect so I started a little one-person production line.
The dough was finally finished and all the cookies baked. I let them cool while I finished wrapping presents and getting ready for a dinner party. Then came the fun job of decorating them.
I always thought royal icing was simply mixing water and icing sugar; apparently this isn’t royal icing – oops. I can now proudly say it’s made from egg whites, lemon juice and icing sugar.
I started decorating by making smiley faces for all gingerbread men before colouring the icing blue and making little buttons. I was a bit short of time (and by a bit I mean I had around 10 minutes to decorate around 50 cookies) so I kept it simple.
The gingerbread men were distributed among neighbours and friends and were thoroughly enjoyed on Christmas Eve. They tasted really good, all the spices went amazingly well together and that beautiful Christmassy smell stayed in the house for days. It’s true what they say – once you taste a homemade gingerbread man you can’t go back – well they don’t technically say that but they should.