I’m such a big fan of gingerbread at Christmas time. They’re the tastiest cookie, but I also love the whole decorating process. I’m not expert, but I’ve been working on my skills and can make a mean Christmas tree decorated with lights or snow and I’m a big fan of the ugly Christmas sweater.
So many other gluten free gingerbread recipes I’ve tried end up being overly sweet, not spicy enough and really crunchy. So, I came up with the perfect balance (in my eyes, anyway! ) and thought I’d share it. I’ve been using it for a few years now and it’s quite easy and pretty foolproof!
Think subtle sweetness, plenty of spicy ginger and cinnamon and a real molasses flavour. Golden brown and a bit crunchy on the outside, while still soft on the inside.
So, put your ugly Christmas sweater on, turn your Christmas lights on, pump your favourite Christmas tunes (I’d recommend How to Make Gravy – Paul Kelly) and get decorating.
These are best made several hours before serving, to let the icing harden.
Makes 30+ small-medium cookies
For the dough:
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 molasses (or up to 1/2 cup if your dough is dry)
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground clove
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups gluten free flour (I use 2.5 cups brown rice flour and 1/2 cup potato starch)
For the icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbls lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together your butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
2. Add your vanilla extract, egg and molasses. Mix well.
3. Add your spices, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
4. Slowly add your flour – 1/2 cup at a time and fold together until just incorporated. You don’t want to overmix here as the dough might become more dry. Gradually add the flour until dough comes together. You don’t want it to be overly sticky or really crumbly. Adjust flour and molasses if you need to.
5. Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface.
6. Knead for 2-3 minutes and roll into a large ball.
7. Wrap dough well and let sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight. I know this is a tedious step, but it will help all your flavours get to know eachother and your gingerbread will be nice and spicy.
8. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, or until you can easily roll it.
9. Pre-heat a fan forced oven to 180°C (356°F).
10. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough, one section at a time. If you like your gingerbread to be a little crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside, roll your dough to be 2-3cm thick. If you like them to have a bit of a snap to them and be quite crunchy, roll to 5mm-1cm thick.
11. Using cookie cutter or a knife, cut to your desired shapes. Place on a baking paper lined pan. They will spread a small amount, so make sure the gingerbread aren’t touching before cooking. You might end up with some conjoined twins – but hey, who doesn’t love that?
12. Bake for 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your gingerbread. They should still seem quite soft, but golden brown.
13. While your gingerbread are baking, mix all of your icing ingredients together to form a royal icing. The consistency you’re looking for is pourable, but slightly thicker (maybe like custard?). Too thick and you won’t be able to pipe it. Too thin and it will spread and not hold it’s shape.
14. Once your gingerbread are baked, let cool completely before decorating.
15. Add your icing to a piping bag with a small round tip and get creative! Ugly Christmas sweaters, snowflakes, bowties on your gingerbread people… whatever you like!