Finally, it’s this time of the year again – Christmas time! The most jolly time of the year, so they say… and I kinda agree, ’cause I love Christmas! ❤
I really enjoy it when it smells like cinnamon and vanilla everywhere in the house and I can drink hot cocoa and eat cookies without feeling childish. So as soon as I can see the first snowflakes silently fall outside my window, I immediately start my little christmas bakery. And that’s when it’s this time of the year again for me!
Anja from Food Freshion started a nice blog event this christmas called “So schmeckt der Advent” (~”The Taste of Christmas”). Verena from We Are Stardust, the girls from Vienna Fashion Waltz and I were chosen to participate and each of us four will share one of our favorite christmas recipes with you on a Sunday before Chistmas to sweeten up the time till Santa arrives…
And because there is no Christmas without gingerbread, that’s what my post will be all about.
The recipe is from a friend’s mother (thank you for sharing it with me <3, so I can share it with the world) and I have never used another recipe ever again. It is oh so easy (just throw everything into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, let it rest and you are ready to go) and it also tastes amazing, so why change a winning team. 🙂
Or would you perfer some Vanille Crescents or Vanille Coconut Rum Truffles or Coconut Macarons or Buttered Bread Cookies or Chocolate Cornflakes Cookies instead?
Let’s start baking!
- 1 kg rye flour
- 4 tsp baking soda
- 2 pkg of gingerbread spice (~ 60 g)
- 200 g butter, cut into pieces
- 4 eggs (M) (+ 1 additional egg to brush on)
- 500 g honey
- 200 g sugar
(This recipe is more than enough for a gingerbread loving family of 6 plus friends and relatives, so cut it in half if that sounds too much to you or you will eat gingerbread all next year too! :-D)
There are 2 possible ways of making this recipe; one way is for the super lazy baker 😛 and one requires quite a bit of elbow grease and lots of kneading.
If you are a super lazy baker, just like me, you can simply put all the ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer and let the mixer do all the kneading for you. My bowl (KitchenAid Artisan) can take up to 4,8l, which is roughly the amount of this recipe, but not more. In case you are unsure whether or not your stand mix will be able to handle this much, just half the recipe and do it two times in a row. I like to stir the dry ingredients together before adding them to the bowl just to make sure, but that’s totally optional.
Equip your stand mixer with the dough hook and knead for a total of 5-8 minutes. Start on a low speed setting (1-2) and then gradually move up to a medium speed setting (3-4) until the seperate ingredients have somewhat turned into a coherent dough. For the finishing touches and to incorporate also the last bit of flour, you will need to do some manual kneading after all. As soon as the dough is in the shape of a nice and smooth ball, you are done.
If you do not own a stand mixer or prefer to knead by hand, because the kitchen is your gym, you can opt to use your very own elbow grease. Put all the dry ingredients onto a clean working surface, then spread the pieces of butter all over it and put the eggs and honey into a mould in the middle. Now you can knead away! Once again, you know you are done, when the dough is in the shape of a nice and smooth ball. This way is more time consuming, makes me sweat only thinking about it and veeeerryyyy sticky ;-), but otherwise it works just as well.
Now you should wrap the dough into cling wrap and allow it to rest for 24 hours in a cool room or the fridge.
On the next day, you can start rolling and cutting out the dough and bake your gingerbread cookies. Preheat your oven to 350°Fahrenheit/180°Celsius air circulation (390°Fahrenheit/200°Celsius bottom and top heat) and line your baking tray with parchment paper.
I like to use a silicone mat and pin for rolling out my dough so nothing will stick, but dusting all the involved surfaces with flour/powdered sugar will work as well.
Take a small portion of your dough (since my baking mat is rather small, I cut my dough into 6 equal parts :-)) and roll it out evenly to about 3-5mm of thickness. I use perfection strips, so I don’t have to worry about it. Now choose your favorite cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread cookies of all forms and sizes.
Before putting your cookies into the oven, take the additional egg, beat it quickly with a whisk and use a baking brush to brush a little bit of the whisked egg over every cookie. This process will make the surface look much nicer after baking.
CAUTION: For the Classic Version (see below), you need to decorate the cookies before baking them!
The baking time depends on the size and thickness of your cookies. Medium sized cookies take about 10 minutes, small ones 7-8 minutes until they are golden brown.
Concerning decorations, I would like to describe 3 different options:
- ) Classic with wafers and nuts
- ) Romantic with Royal Icing
- ) Simplistic with chocolate
And of course there is the most easy method of them all – TOPLESS. 🙂 Just bake, serve and eat them without any decoration at all. This might not be the most amazing version to look at, but they will still taste super delicious. 😛 Omnomnom!
Now, let’s get decorating…
For the Classic gingerbread you will need:
- wafers (round or rectangular)
- nuts (almonds, walnuts …) or dried/candied fruits (cherries, …)
Cut out your cookie with a round cookie cutter that’s approximately the same size as your wafer or trim the rectangular wafer to the form of your cookie and put each cookie on top of a matching wafer. Now decorate the top with parts of nuts or fruits as you please, brush some whisked egg over them and bake them. Done!
For the Romantic gingerbread you will need:
- 800-900 g powdered sugar, sifted
- 4 egg whites (or 20 g egg white powder plus 120 ml of water)
- maybe some food coloring gel
Usually, I do not take the sifting of ingredients (esp. flour and such) too seriously, because it just annoys me, so I simply don’t do it. 😛 However, when it comes to frostings, I am sure you have noticed, I have continuously stressed the importance of sifting. And with Royal Icing sifting is even MORE important, because every small grain of sugar can clog your piping tip and make piping a living nightmare.
Sadly, every package of powdered sugar contains also some grains of caster sugar, so for Royal Icing it is of utmost importance that you use a very very VERY fine sieve to make sure that only the powder gets through.
Once that is done, you can start mixing. Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk and slowly add in the SIFTED powdered sugar. The consistency should resemble that of tooth paste, spreadable but keeping its form.
You can tint Royal Icing any color you like using food coloring gels. I like white and red best for my Christmas cookies.
Now you can put the icing into a piping bag and decorate freely by hand. For fine lines, writing and dots, just snip off a tiny bit of your piping bag or use a piping tip with a small round opening. You can also use small star tips (e.g. for the traditional border of a gingerbread heart) or leaf tips (e.g. for holly) to decorate your cookies.
Furthermore, you can use stencils. Just place the stencil in the middle of your gringerbread cookie, put a big glob of icing on top and then gently lift the stencil upright off the cookie. This way anybody can create the most beautiful patterns on their cookies. Be sure to clean and wipe down the stencil after every use or remaining residue on the bottom might mess up your next cookie. Even though it takes quite some time, stencils are a great and easy way to step-up your cookie decorating game.
For the Simplistic gingerbread you will need:
- 200 g dark/milk/white chocolate
- 2 tsp fat (e.g. coconut fast or crisco)
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler (= a metal bowl that sits in a smaller pot with simemring water in it, the bowl does not touch the water but is merely heated by the steam, keep stiring). Then stir in the fat. Done!
You can use the chocolate glaze with a piping bag to create lines, dots and writing and also with stencils. You can also take a spoon and randomly drizzle the chocolate over your cookie. The easiest method, however, is to simply dip the cookie or parts of the cookie into the chocolate.
The marble effect ist created by pooring some milk chocolate into the white chocolate (or vice versa) and then dipping the cookie into the mixture.
Be creative! Try out new things! And don’t be afraid that a cookie might end up looking somewhat odd, because the evidence is easily eaten up. 😉
Need more Christmas cookie inspiration? Click to see the recipes for Vanille Crescents , Vanille Coconut Rum Truffles , Coconut Macarons , Buttered Bread Cookies , Chocolate Cornflakes Cookies instead?