I've been blogging for two Christmases now; this year will be the third. And each year I tell you about our family tradition of making masses of gingerbread cookies and decorating them. It was something that my mum did with my brothers and me when I was a child. As we grew into our teens we did not grow out of the tradition, rather we invited friends over to join in the decorating fun.
This year, I thought I would talk about it well before the actual fact occurs and give you the recipe - so if you decided it was a good idea you could start your own tradition in your house. The recipe will be posted up on the recipe tab at the top of my blog so it will be there whenever you would like.
This recipe is not for the faint hearted. It makes a lot, as in many, many cookies. But they are (a) tasty, (b) fun to put out when you are entertaining over the holidays, and (c) don't go stale and horrible, or soggy, as long as you store them well in a cookie tin. Just an idea of how much dough you get can be seen by how full my Kitchen Aid mixer gets when I am making it.
I tend to make the dough a couple of days in advance, and then form it into three discs, wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until we are ready for the cookie marathon. On the day we decorate I make royal icing as this is the icing that dries hard and is good for decorating and then stacking up in the cookie tin once they are dry. We empty the cupboards of every sprinkle and bit of edible glitter we have, put on the Christmas tunes and have a great time.
If you are feeling particularly ambitious then use some of the dough to make a gingerbread house. We have cookie cutters to help us achieve the desired shape, and like to smash up boiled sweets and put them in the window openings before baking to form 'stained glass' windows.
Though I must admit that making that gingerbread house stand up and stay standing up is a challenge that I struggle with. This year though I have a new card up my sleeve. I've purchased new cutters at Ikea. They slot the pieces of the house together so, theoretically, there won't be any houses falling down here abouts. Trust Ikea to come up with the flat packed gingerbread house.
I hope I haven't scared the pants off you talking about Christmas cookies so far in advance. I guess they were on my mind what with the recent new house cutters purchase. But if I have inspired you to join the fun, here's the recipe -
5 cups of plain flour
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
2 heaped tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (8 oz) shortening/margarine/butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light molasses/treacle
Combine dry ingredients. Beat shortening/butter and sugar. Add molasses/treacle and beat in. Add in egg and beat until incorporated. Add dry ingredients a cup at a time until all incorporated and a stiff dough is formed. Form into three discs, wrap well in plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least an hour to rest.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C/160 Fan/Gas Mark 4.
Roll out the dough on a floured work surface to approximately 1/8" thick. (The dough is hard to work with at first when chilled but it will become much more pliable soon enough. Have faith.) Cut out desired shapes and place on a lined cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until golden brown. Decorate as desired once cooled. Enjoy!
If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it.