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Christmas Kitchen: How To Make Classic Gingerbread Men
My Mum says I’m boring, but I really love plain gingerbread men without all that icing. Is it just me, or do we have so much sugar sent our way in the month and December (and beyond, working through the stash we tend to give each other this year) but I just want some of my festive baking to be simple and a little bit more sophisticated. You can of course use this recipe to make decorated gingerbread, but I leave mine as is for snacking while I put together more Christmas content and plan what I’m cooking on Christmas Eve with a steaming mug of tea.
I’ve adapted this recipe from the one given to me by the Amara Home team when they sent me away with a box of festive bakes after their lunch a few weeks ago which included the best gingerbread men I’d had in ages. What I like about the recipe is it does not involve any baking ingredients I don’t usually keep in the kitchen which is what usually puts me off gingerbread – too many different treacles and molasses to keep straight! However, a tip if you like your gingerbread biscuits with extra ginger you can swap out the golden syrup for the syrup from a jar of stem ginger if you happen to have one open in the fridge for that extra bit of heat.
These easy gingerbread men are delicious plain or decorated for a festive treat with your mid-morning mug of tea. There is also the option to amp up the ginger for a bit more of a grown up treat.
175g (6 oz) Plain (All Purpose) Flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate Soda (Baking Soda)
Pinch Sea Salt
1 tsp Ground Ginger, heaped
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
60g (2 oz) Unsalted Butter, cubed
90g (3 oz) Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Large Egg Yolk
2 tbsp Golden Syrup or Stem Ginger Syrup
2 tsp Cold Water (as needed)
Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl – I like to do this with a balloon whisk.
Add the butter and rub it into the mixture with your fingertips until the mixture has formed crumbs.
Stir in the sugar and add the egg yolk and the syrup.
Using a regular eating knife and a downwards cutting motion while you slowly rotate the bowl with your other hand, bring the mixture together until it starts to form a rough bowl. Depending on the size of your egg yolk and the viscosity of your syrup you may need to add up to 2 tsp of cold water, adding only 1/2 tsp at a time to bring the dough together.
Once you have a rough bowl, gently knead the mixture into a smooth ball. Wrap in kitchen wrap or baking parchment and chill for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees (345 fahrenheit) and line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
Flour a clean work surface well and roll out the dough until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut our your gingerbread men shapes, gathering out the scraps and rolling them out again until you don’t have enough to make another one. Depending on the size of your cutter, you should get around 18-20.
Bake the gingerbread men for 10-12 minutes. They should be slightly golden when they come out the oven; as soon as they’re firm enough to do so, transfer them to a wire cooling wrack. As a general rule, if like me you prefer your gingerbread men soft, go for 10 minutes, and 12 if you like them crisp and more like ginger biscuits. However, this depends on your oven temperature, so you should be able to narrow down your preferred texture after a batch or two.
If you’re going for decoration, wait until they are completely cool before icing.
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