This gingerbread men recipe is an absolute classic – it’s our go-to for brilliant results every time.
This recipe makes the perfect gingerbread men: firm and crisp around the edges and soft and doughy towards the middle. Gingerbread is quick and easy to make but it really benefits from being rested and chilled in between stages. If you can leave the dough to cool in the fridge overnight, and again once you’ve cut the shapes, you will get the best results. That is: firm and crisp around the edges, soft in the centre. It also helps the gingerbread men to keep their shape while they’re cooking, for a really professional-looking finish, worthy of the Hummingbird Bakery.
- 400g plain flour
- ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 125g soft dark brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 125g black treacle
- 1 egg white
- ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 310g icing sugar, sifted
- food colouring, optional
You will need:
- gingerbread biscuit cutters
- a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper
- Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
- Put the butter and sugars in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and cream on slow speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat in the egg and treacle, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Turn the mixer back down to slow speed and slowly add the flour mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time, stopping often to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Once an even dough has formed, take it out of the mixer, divide into 3 and wrap each piece in clingfilm. Leave to rest overnight in the fridge if you have time.
- When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Take the dough out of the fridge and leave to soften for about 10 minutes. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4 mm with a rolling pin. Cut out your gingerbread (opens in new tab) man shapes with the biscuit cutters. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays and bake in the preheated oven for about 10–15 minutes.
- Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Beat the egg white and lemon juice together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk). Gradually start adding the icing sugar, mixing well after each addition to ensure all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until you get stiff peaks. If the icing is too runny, add a little more sugar. Stir in a couple of drops of food colouring, if using, and decorate the cookies.
This recipe is taken from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
Text © Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers
Photography copyright Ryland Peters & Small
Top tips for making Hummingbird Bakery’s gingerbread men recipe
Avoid over-greasing your baking tray or using too much butter on it as this can cause your gingerbread men to spread while baking. Swap the oil for baking paper or use a silicone baking mat instead.
Should gingerbread be soft or crunchy?
Gingerbread should be be mostly soft, with just a little bit of crunch around the edge of the biscuits and a chewy, supple centre. If your biscuits come out too thin and crisp all the way through, you’ve might have simply cooked them for too long. You can serve gingerbread hard – it might even be better if you’re using it to build a gingerbread house, and some people prefer hard biscuits to dip in milk, but in general we think it’s at its best when it’s firm at the edges and soft in the middle.
Why does my gingerbread taste so bland?
Gingerbread should be strong and spicy – a real taste explosion. If you’ve followed the recipe to the tee and your gingerbread is on the bland side, check your spices. Ground ginger is one of those underused spices that can sit on the rack for months (even years), and while it won’t go off, it will lose its potency after 6 months or so.
Can I make gingerbread dough in advance?
You certainly can, in fact we find the dough is often better when it’s made in advance and left to chill overnight or even for a couple of days. You can also cook a batch of the dough well in advance and freeze it in portions until needed.
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