Recently, an amazing new friend and I had a hoot and holler of a time at the BirdHouse, making and decorating gingerbread men from scratch. The idea was to batch-bake and decorate a bunch of gingerbread cookies which we would then gift pretty much entirely to a big group of other friends we were hanging out with on the weekend. The only problem was our crazy work schedules, and by the time we had conceived of this awesome notion we didn’t have much time left, so we had to do it on the Friday night before.
We were both pretty punch-drunk from exhaustion by the time we finally called it quits on the decorating part that night; let me just say that worky all day/week PLUS baky and decoraty all night PLUS a couple of schooners of wine EQUALS to some innnnteresting design choices — *cough cough ninjabread men and Kringus cookies* — but we surprisingly got a lot done, considering we were half in the bag by the end of the night.
…and by “we” I totally mean “just me”.
Surprisingly, even after the schooners of wine, the cookie designs overall didn’t suck! Well, at least Desz’ didn’t…of course it helps that she’s an incredibly talented artist, who also happens to work as a Graphic artist by day AND is a newly-minted professional Heraldry artist for the Government of Canada.
So yeah. Kick-Ass Awesome.
My gingerbread men tended to look a little more, um, childlike and innocent in comparison (my diplomatic way of saying an arthritic monkey could do better), but I was pleased enough, and they certainly tasted delicious enough that who was going to complain about free cookies?
Below you will find the recipe we used, straight outta
Compton one of my favourite baking books, The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book. This tome has been the reason for some crazy amounts of stuff coming out of my various kitchens over the last several years; an old Pastry School friend of mine and I even tried to do a Julie & Julia-style bake-everything-in-this-book with it. We got through most of the cookies, then time got away from us and we gave up (though the cookie recipes in this book are awesome and I suggest everyone go out and buy this book to make them! — and no, I am not being paid to say that…I just really like the book.) ;o)
Aaaand, back to gingerbread men. Sorry, I wander off topic
all the time sometimes …..
It’s a simple recipe, as you will see, and I’ve included my standard royal icing recipe below as well (another shout-out to my old Pastry buddy who used to make this in large batches daily as part of her job); depending on how large the cutters are that you use for these cookies, you will have more than enough dough to give you dozens upon dozens of gingerbread cookies, and enough royal icing to decorate them all.
Gingerbread Cookie Dough
Source: Canadian Living online
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Chill Time: 2 hours
Yield: 30-48 cookies
- 1 cup butter or shortening, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup fancy molasses
- ½ cup cooking/blackstrap molasses
- 5½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs, fancy molasses and cooking molasses.
- In separate bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon.
- Stir into molasses mixture in 2 additions, mixing well and blending with hands, if necessary.
- Divide dough into 2 discs; wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours (make-ahead tip: Refrigerate for up to 1 week or overwrap with foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat silicone liners.
- Roll out chilled dough to about 1/8″ thickness and cut out desired shapes (handy tip: I like to roll dough out between a large folded sheet of parchment paper to start it off and minimize tearing of the dough).
- Gently transfer to prepared baking sheets with a little room between each cookie, and bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.
- Let cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer to cooling racks to cool completely before decorating.
- 90g egg whites (room temperature) – I recommend using pasteurized egg whites
- 500g icing sugar, SIFTED (don’t skip this step or you will have lumpy royal icing)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Paste colours for tinting your icing
Place the egg whites in the glass or metal bowl of a tabletop mixer, or if using a hand mixer, make sure the bowl is ceramic, metal, or glass, and completely clean and dry. Do not use plastic bowls, as they have a tendency to “hold on” to grease even if they look clean, which will deflate your icing.
If using a tabletop mixer, use the wire whip attachment. Add icing sugar a cup at a time, and combine slowly until it is all incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then turn up the speed of the mixer to medium and allow to whip for a couple of minutes. Stop and scrape down the bowl again, add the lemon juice, and start the mixer again, allowing to whip the mixture until it is pure white and stiff/holds its peak (if you scoop a small amount out with the tip of a spoon, it will hold its shape and not droop when the spoon is held vertically).
This will be your piping icing, which is excellent for creating borders and line designs that hold their shape. If you need flooding icing, a runnier icing that you would use to fill in between the piped borders, take a small amount of icing out of the main bowl, tint it to whatever colour you need and mix in, then add warm (boiled and cooled) water, drop by drop, mixing together thoroughly, until you have the consistency you desire.
Storage: royal icing will dry out and crust over very quickly while you are working, so always be sure to have a very damp, clean kitchen towel or two that you can use to cover over your various bowls of tinted royal icing, as well as nestle your piping bag tips into when they’re not being used.
Decorate to your heart’s content, and allow to dry overnight for a strong, beautiful finish on all your cookies!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!