You can’t have Christmas without a batch (or two) of gingerbread cookies. Am I right? It’s practically mandatory. And much as I love gingerbread cookies (and cookies of any kind) I am not partial to the whole ‘make the dough then chill for an hour‘ business. I am way, way, way too impatient for that. I want my cookies and I want them now… and I have finally found the perfect recipe for gingerbread that requires none of the pesky chilling or waiting around. You make the dough and use it straight away – and what’s more, the cookies keep their shape perfectly and get even better with time.
I have a friend in the States to thank for the recipe – she told me it was foolproof I can I can totally vouch for that. The dough is a dream to work with, the cookies have plenty of snap and the recipe is perfect for building gingerbread houses or edible Christmas ornaments. That’s right, it’s practically magic.
Makes 20-40 depending on size (enough to share!)
1/4 tsp salt
pinch ground white pepper
- Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and line 3 heavy trays with baking paper (you may need to bake the cookies in batches).
- Put the sugar, treacle and all the spices in a medium saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until it reaches boiling point. Take care it doesn’t burn.
- Take off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda – the mix will start to foam up.
- Add the butter and stir until completely melted. Mix in the beaten egg and transfer to a large bowl.
- Gradually add all the flour, stirring it in, until the dough is fairly firm.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and gently knead into a ball. If the dough is too soft, sprinkle with a little flour. It should be the consistency of Play-Doh, pliable but not sticky. Slice in half (or thirds) keeping the dough you aren’t using covered with cling fillm.
- Roll the dough out to about 6mm ( about 1/4 inch) and cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies to the prepared trays and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until the cookies start getting coloured at the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely until firm. Repeat with the remaining dough.
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Start whisking on low speed until frothy.
- Increase the speed and once the egg whites form soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whisk until it forms firm peaks. The longer you whisk the stiffer the icing will become. Keep the royal icing covered otherwise it will quickly dry out. If the icing is too thin you can add more icing sugar. If too thick, thin it with a little lemon juice or water. You will want the icing to be quite thick if you are making a gingerbread house.
- Put the royal icing in a piping bag and snip a very small hole at the tip. Use the bag to pipe lines on the cookies – holding the bag a small distance away from the cookies while you are piping. If you wish to fill (flood) the cookies, thin half of the icing with a little water and use it to fill an outlined cookie – pushing the icing to the edges using a toothpick. Leave to dry completely at room temperature.