As part of my Christmas baking plans I thought I would make some gingerbread tree decorations.
I love gingerbread; it is one of my favourite biscuits. The only problem with that is I find it hard to only eat one at a time. I usually discover I have eaten three in a row without realising it!
I have tried various gingerbread recipes over the years but this is by far my favourite.
400g Plain Flour
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Ground Nutmeg
180g Salted Butter (softened)
125g Light Brown Sugar
- Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and all spices into a bowl. I don’t sift this but you can.
- Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together. I use a paddle attachment on the freestanding mixer. You could also use a handheld whisk.
- Once light and fluffy add the egg and treacle*. Scrape down the sides to ensure a through mix
- Add the flour mixture slowly on a slow speed (unless you fancy doing a ghost impression for the post man who invariably turns up at this point wanting a signature!). Ensure you scrape down the sides.
- Once a dough has been formed take it out of the mixture and wrap it in clingfilm. Place this in the fridge for 4-6 hours to fully rest. If you want to rest it for less time split the mixture into ¾ portions. Once it is hard it is ready for rolling.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. I use baking spray to secure this to the tray but I don’t spray the top of the paper where the biscuits will be.
- On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/2cm thick.
- Cut into desired shapes. I used round, holly leaves and snowflakes for this bake.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Leave the biscuits to cool for a few minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
*I have never worked out the best way to measure this out. However, what I do is place the treacle pot on my scales (digital will be easiest to do this with). I then ‘tare’ the amount so it shows as zero. I slowly spoon out the treacle bit by bit until the amount shows ‘-125g’. I don’t know if this is right but it seemed logical to me and it seems to work.
This makes a really dark gingerbread, which I personally prefer but I know lots of people prefer a lighter gingerbread. In this instance I would simply replace the treacle with golden syrup. The amounts required are roughly the same.
To decorate I have used Royal Icing. You could also use Candy Melts if you preferred and they would work just as well.
660g Icing Sugar, sifted
20g Pasturised Egg White Powder (or 4 egg whites)
½tsp Cream of Tartar
- Prepare the egg white powder as per instructions. Usually this is mix with 50mls of water per 10g. But please double check.
- Mix in the powder until no lumps left and there is a think layer of bubbles.
- Put in the mixer with the cream of tartar and start whisking.
- If using egg white place these in the mixer and whisk until frothy with the cream of tartar.
- Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, ensuring it is well combined after each addition.
- Mix on a medium speed for 15-20 minutes until bright white and stiff with a smooth texture.
For these decorations I used the royal icing in stiff and flood consistency. I don’t line the shapes before flooding. I simply use a scribing tool to bring the icing slightly closer to the edge if I need in small circular movements. This also removes any air bubbles that you do not want! To combine the water I use a spray to ensure I don’t add too much at once. For the stiff consistency I was looking for a toothpaste type mixture. For the flood consistency much more water is required. This is also referred to as 20 second consistency because when all the water is mixed in if you draw a line through the mixture (and into it) with a knife or skewer this line should disappear without a trace at 20 seconds. Not before or after.
If you add too much water then the best and only way to effectively thicken the icing again is to add more of the stiff royal icing. Simply adding icing sugar will make it grainy.
Once the biscuits are iced I leave them out over night to set or for at least four hours.
For the colours I used:
Red: Squires Kitchen in ‘Poppy’
Green: Sugarflair in ‘Holly’
I also tinted some white icing with Squires Kitchen Teddy Brown, which I then painted with edible gold lustre.
To make the lustre into a paintable liquid add some alcohol to the dust. The reason you use alcohol is alcohol evaporates really quickly so it doesn’t dissolve the icing like water would. I like to use vodka because it is flavour and colourless so it doesn’t alter anything.
I added some silver ball dragees to the snowflakes and so silver lustre dust to make them a little sparkly.
Oh and because I totally forgot to say I made the holes for the ribbon in the snowflakes and baubles using a straw from one of the girls sippy cups when I cut out the dough! I think any large straw would work. The holes did close up a little during baking which I expected but they were still large enough for a thin ribbon to fit through.
The final product: Ta Dah! (Ok, I know I’ve already put picture above but just pretend this is a grand reveal for me… Please.)