Monday, December 8, 2008

Gingerbread with Royal Icing - A Work (mess!) in Progress

A couple of weeks ago I found some cute Christmas cookie cutters and snapped them up, with a plan to make gingerbread. I've seen so many beautiful iced biscuits and thought that I could make some and put them in with presents. However, I forgot that I am not very artistic and also not very good at piping!The result? A HUGE mess in my tiny kitchen! I learnt some very good lessons though, so hopefully next time round will be more successful!
Strange arms!
The gingerbread themselves taste great, however, I couldn't get the dough to chill stiff enough for the shapes to hold when I moved them to the baking trays. I even tried putting it in the freezer for 40 minutes but to no avail. You will notice that some of my angels have very uneven arms! This was also the reason why I ended up with so many crazy face gingerbreads - I moulded the circles by hand once I had given up on the cutters.

More strange arms!
I'm not sure if I will use this recipe again because of this, but if you don't want to use cutters, it should be fine. The only changes I made were to the quantities of the spices, as I didn't have any ground cloves on hand. My big cookies took about 15 minutes (for very chewy cookies) and the small ones about 8 minutes (again for very soft chewy cookies).
Crazy faces!
125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Cream the butter and sugar until pale. Stir in the golden syrup and the egg yolk. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Stir into the butter mixture, cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 175C. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper until about 5mm thick. Cut with cookie cutters and carefully transfer to baking tray. Place cookies about 5cm apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (maybe longer for larger cookies or if you prefer your cookies crunchy). Cool on a wire rack. Ice when completely cool.
Recipe adapted from

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
couple drops vanilla essence
food colouring
Whisk white till soft peaks. Sift in the sugar in 3 stages, whisking after each addition. Stir through vanilla.

Separate the icing into bowls - 1 for each colour. Use food colouring to colour each bowl of icing. Fill the sink with hot water. Place cling film over each bowl, pressing the cling film down so that it is touching the icing. This helps prevent the icing from setting. Place each bowl into the sink of hot water so the icing doesn't set.
More mess!
Use a small piping bag made of baking paper or use a zip lock bag with one corner cut off to pipe onto each cookie. Decorate with sprinkles, cachous etc.
Even more mess!


  1. Hee hee cute cookies and looks so tasty tooo ^^! I think the strange arms give each angel their own personality :P

  2. they look very yummy and fun, even with the strange arms.

    Simon :-)

  3. Thanks guys! Blogging is definitely a confidence booster, everyone always has something nice to say!

  4. I didn't even notice the arms until you pointed them out, they look great! :) You could always call them postmodern angels ;)

  5. The christmas tree is so beautiful, I can't do that !! I wanna try making ginger bread at home also (except at school) but I have no spices .. hehe

    I like an angel and crazy faces too :D

  6. i think they're adorable...uneven arms and all ;) but i think that's the recipe's fault, not yours! i didn't have to put my icing in a warm water bath to keep it from last just fine (even w/o plastic wrap) as long as i gave it a little stir every once in a while...

  7. Lorraine - postmodern angels it is!

    Ja - how can you not have spices at home!? lol :)

    Jaime - I wonder if the difference was because you used cream of tartar and salt? Or because you used electric beaters and I made mine by hand?

  8. I think you icing looks great. And soft gingerbread dough is frustrating. If pre-chilling the dough or a spatula doesn't work (sometimes a thick piece of smooth cardboard works wonders) then I roll the dough out onto baking paper, imprint the shapes, remove the excess dough and then put the whole sheet (with now separated shapes) into the oven. No need to transfer!

    Otherwise you can also add extra flour to make your dough a tad stiffer.

  9. Helen - thanks for the suggestions! I will have to remember these for next time!

  10. Aw they are absolutely beautiful...what mess you talkin' about lady! Annie, they are precious! Have a wonderful hoilday season!!

  11. Deeba - thanks for that! The mess was more my tiny kitchen than the cookies! Happy holidays to you too :)