I’ve always loved gingerbread men. Decorating them provides most of the fun, and is a great activity to do with your kids, and an equally lovely activity to do on your own.
Delia’s gingerbread men turn out dark and crisp, very traditional, which is how I like them. They also keep much better than the softer doughy type cookies, and don’t soften up when decorated. The added bonus of this cookie dough? Yours kids can go wild rolling and shaping it for an age with their hot, sweaty little paws and it has absolutely no effect on the end product! They aren’t the BEST gingerbread cookies I’ve ever made, but they certainly tick the boxes of being easy to make and toddlerproof! Win win! Perfect for a rainy day’s entertainment: Morning baking and afternoon decorating!
I leave the dough in the fridge overnight to firm up and then soften it up by working it with my hands. The softer it is, the easier it is to roll. A good tip is to roll it and cut the dough straight on a non stick cookie sheet that you can pop into the fridge for these little dudes to firm up. That way, they’re less likely to be decapitated when you transfer them to your baking sheet for the oven.
Also watch them like a hawk in the oven, as the line between being done and being burnt is very fine.
75g soft dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons syrup
1 Tablespoon dark treacle
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
the zest from an orange
Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g plain white flour
Put the first 8 ingredients into a pot on the stove and bring to the boil. Stir in the butter and remove from the heat. Once the butter has all melted, add the bicarb. It will go frothy. Stir in the flour to form a soft elastic dough. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate until firm.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (160 for a hot convection like mine). Soften the dough by working by hand. Roll out to 3mm thickness and cut into your preferred shape. Transfer to a greased cookie tray with an egg lifter or icing spatula and bake in the middle rack for 8-10 minutes. Watch them closely, you want to whip these out once the edges just start to darken. Leave on the cookie sheet to cool for a minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack where they’ll crisp up.
I bake these in batches using two cookie sheets. One is baking in the oven while I’m rolling, cutting and loading the other. It works well and you get a more even bake than doing the whole lot in one go on three or four sheets.
Decorate anyway you like.