Vegan gingerbread cookies are easy, delicious and perfect for sharing. Turn them into adorable mini gingerbread cookie wreaths to use as cake decorations or table settings… possibly too cute to eat!
Every year I reach December 20th and vow to take a break from blogging, enough already, I am done! And every year, I get a burst of inspiration just when I promise myself that I am finally, officially, on ‘holiday’.
This year it was the vegan chocolate gingerbread cake that got me testing frostings and baking batches and batches of gingerbread cookies when I should have been readying the house for Christmas. To be fair to my husband, he literally didn’t even blink when I got up on Christmas Eve and started baking gingerbread cookies… despite the fact we had about a million of them already.
The truth is, I enjoy nothing more than a spot of festive baking. So much so that I hosted a “bake it festive” food photography and styling workshop with the lovely Aimee of Twigg Studios earlier this year. The workshop idea was conceived by Aimee and I in early November and became a reality on the first (and possibly only for London) snowy day in December.
We were joined by Hazel of One life to bake, Lisa of Panning the globe and Angela and we set out to capture the visual storytelling process of making gingerbread cookies from scratch, as well as styling and photographing my favourite gingerbread layer cake.
Aimee is an absolute (natural) genius at styling and her work is instantly recognisable and much imitated. This might sound easy, styling photos in a certain way, but is actually a really difficult to achieve – I can always SEE the styling choices in some photos, but the best food styling that marks a food photo as exceptional feels totally organic.
The day was insanely busy, with a short break for lunch which, thankfully, had been provided by the lovely folks at Higgidy Pies – we had zero time and energy to make something from scratch! But the lunch break was a great time to chat, both about blogging and social media and about life stuff (crazy that those exist, right? Blogging is all-encompassing).
I also need to give Lucy of Capture by Lucy a MASSIVE shout out for her amazing vinyl backgrounds… If you are a food blogger you should just order a bunch of them – I own at least four – they are great to work with, photograph like a dream and are wipe-clean and easy to store.
Another big part of our photos was down to Jo of Beards and Daisies who sent us one her beautiful winter bouquets. Flowers are probably the easiest way to transform certain photos from everyday to extraordinary, but incorporating them in food photography can be tricky…
I find Instagram and Pinterest a great source of inspiration and creating a mood board for a project you are working on can be a great way to plan the type of shots and styling you want to achieve. Keep your mood boards secret as Aimee does, or invite other bloggers or clients to collaborate on them.
I don’t think I have ever felt as exhausted as I did the day after the workshop, but I would do it again… it was a great way to connect with other bloggers and to collaborate. I realised, after the workshop was over, that I had taken very few shots on the day.
I was so invested in sharing camera setting tips, making sure everyone was happy and being a behind-the-camera model that I haven’t got a single photo of the styled gingerbread cake. But hopefully this workshop might be the first of many – watch this space!
After the workshop, I was determined to make a vegan version of my gingerbread cookies and luckily this turned out to be rather easy. I simply replaced the butter with non-dairy spread (Vitalite) and the egg with a flax egg in my regular gingerbread cookie recipe.
The cookies taste and look EXACTLY the same as the non-vegan version, but I do think they lose their crispness faster. So if you end up making the mini gingerbread cookie wreaths, factor that in and use them soon after baking.
Making the wreaths requires no magic – simply overlapping the cookies slightly before baking ensures that they meld together. I used a variety of small cookie cutters and sugarcraft plungers, but you can use whatever you have available. You can see these vegan gingerbread cookies in action as decoration on the vegan chocolate gingerbread cake I posted a couple of days ago.
- 85 g | 3oz | 1/3 cup soft light brown sugar
- 200 g | 7oz | 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp treacle molasses
- or half treacle half golden syrup
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda baking soda
- 115 g | 1 stick non-dairy spread at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 1/2 tbsp hot water SEE NOTES
- 440 g | 15.5oz | 3½ cups plain flour plus more for dusting and rolling
- Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and line 3 heavy trays with baking paper (you will 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 non-dairy spread and stir until completely melted. Mix in the flax egg until completely incorporated 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.
- Slice in half (or thirds) keeping the dough you aren’t using covered with cling fillm.
- Roll the dough out to about 6mm ( about ¼ inch) and cut out a selection of small shapes with floured cookie cutters and sugar craft plunger cutters.
- Trace small circles on baking paper and arrange the cookies in a circle to form small wreaths. Make sure the shapes are overlapping slightly and press their edges to seal.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until the wreaths start getting coloured at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wide rack to cool completely. Handle the wreaths with care as they can be a little fragile.
- Use within 1-2 days and store in an airtight container.
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