My son, Humphrey, four, begged me to make gingerbread after falling in love with the fairy tale of The Gingerbread Man. He cannot get enough of the idea of a biscuit with a life of its own.
I think this is a pretty educational bake because you can back it up with the story and have a bit of a gingerbread men theme – plus, this Delia Smith-based recipe makes the most incredible warm dough which will scent your home beautifully.
Dare I say it, the dough is even better than the baked biscuits and I’d make this again just for edible playdough!
What you need:
- Gingerbread man cookie cutters. We also made gingerbread animals, gingerbread mummies and daddies and so on.
- For the men:
75g soft brown sugar (ideally sieved but we didn’t bother with that!)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon treacle
1 tablespoon water (at least – keep the dough moist otherwise you will get dry biscuits when baked)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
Finely grated rind of half an orange (we didn’t add this but it would make it extra yummy)
Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Approx. 225g plain flour
Currants for decoration
What to do:
Put the sugar, syrup, treacle, water, spices and rind in a saucepan and bring to boiling point, stirring all the time. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter and bicarb of soda. Then gradually stir in the flour to make a dough. This is the point where I would counsel not trying to make the dough too dry. A bit sticky is fine, and will keep the biscuits moist. Cover the dough and put in the fridge for half an hour to firm. Then preheat the oven to 180°C.
Here’s the fun bit – rolling pins for all as you roll out the dough on a floured surface. You can experiment with the thickness but we liked our gingerbread creatures fairly thick so they weren’t more like gingerbread snaps. Go wild with the biscuit cutters and press currants in to make eyes, buttons and so on.
Line them up on greased baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until firm.
What the children thought:
‘I like gingerbread mens [sic],’ Humphrey said happily. It was hugely exciting for them and they adored eating the warm fragrant dough – obviously not the healthiest snack, but at least it has no eggs in so you needn’t worry about food poisoning! Humphrey relived the fairy tale as we cut out the dough and repeatedly wondered whether the men would run away when they came out of the oven. My 18-month-old was a bit young to get rolling out and cutting very easily, but she certainly enjoyed squidging dough and eating bits.
Tears and tantrums quotient:
MEDIUM – in any dough-based situation with young children there comes a point where you have to take it away from them before they make themselves sick. This is bound to cause resistance.
Parental mess-cleaning and exhaustion quotient
MEDIUM – let’s just say you will want a rest by the time they’re in the oven. Not that you’ll get one, of course.
Kept them entertained for
2 hours from start to finish.
Loads of gingerbread creatures which softened nicely after the first day or two.