Gingerbread Men

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December is here. And so is Christmas. Even though I swear it was here in October.

Well, it is time for the festive baking!

I love Christmas baking. It is full of warm, comforting ingredients: ginger and cinnamon spices, dark brown sugar, dried fruit and nuts, candid peel, citrus, whiskey, rum and brandy, not to forget chocolate.

I get going with the Christmas baking as soon as December hits us, often starting with the loveable gingerbread men.

I offer you my recipe as an early Christmas present. Pretend you are three and dunk a gingerbread man in a cup of milk – I promise, you will not regret it. Christmas should be fun so step back from the sticky mess of sellotape and wrapping paper or ink-splodged cards and sweeping up pine needles from that tree – eat a gingerbread man to make you smile. Enjoy!

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Gingerbread Men

(Serves 12-16)

-340g plain flour -4tsp ground ginger -1tsp bicarbonate of soda -110g salted butter -170g light brown sugar -1 egg, beaten -60ml/2 1/2tbsp golden syrup –Currants to decorate, if desired

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Tip the flour into a bowl. Add the ginger and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and the beaten egg.
  4. Warm the syrup in a non-stick saucepan on a low heat, just slightly, to make it runny. Stir it into the flour mixture to make a soft dough. If the mixture is too sticky, keep adding more flour. If it is too dry, add another spoonful of syrup.
  5. Using your hands, knead until the dough is smooth, then roll it out onto a floured table or board until it is quite thin, but not enough for the biscuits to tear.
  6. With a gingerbread man cutting shape, stamp out the men. With a fish-slice of good spatula, lift the shapes onto the lined tins. Make faces in the men and if you like currants, add them to the eyes, nose, mouth and buttons down the middle, gently pressing them into the biscuits.
  7. Bake for about 12 minutes or until just colouring – it will vary on how thin they are. I personally like mine to be slightly thick, others like them very thin and crispy.
  8. Leave the gingerbread men to cool slightly in their tins – moving them will cause them to break. When they are slightly cool and solid, lift them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

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