Well here it goes; welcome to 2015! So Happy New Year, may the next 365 days be full of happiness, laughter and oodles of love! And whilst you’re enjoying life, let me bring you a little baking goodness to go with it.
2014 was full of so many amazing times; it was sad to finally say good bye to my business after 5 years of cakes, but I’ve been so lucky to have found a job I really enjoy and work with some pretty cool people, and made some awesome friends. We’ve eaten some amazing food and I’ve added one massive tick to my bucket list. And amongst all this, we’ve certainly had plenty to celebrate; birthdays, anniversaries and 3 fabulous weddings, so there’s been plenty to bake as well.
So picture if you will, a week before Christmas and a beautiful winter wedding, deep in the heart of the Cotswolds, full of sparkle and magic, glamour and elegance, and oh…. gingerbread reindeer!
So then, winter, wedding, glamour and reindeer – the perfect recipe, for the perfect day! Now, December in the Cotswolds isn’t what I’d call ‘toasty’, despite it being significantly warmer than previous years, but it certainly wasn’t Pimms and canapés on the terrace weather. So to warm the cockles of our hearts and keep everyone fuelled for a little longer, we were treated to a Hot Chocolate Bar, perhaps with a little alcohol in there for good measure, and to accompany the chocolatey delights… gingerbread
Well, as I was creating a bit of a Winter Wonderland Cake masterpiece in the kitchen for the Big Day, so adding a few gingerbread reindeer just slipped onto the end of the baking list, and as Ian was building a gingerbread house as well it all fitted neatly together. It was a mammoth baking week, in-between work and Christmas parties but come Saturday morning we were all set to go and off we trundled very slowly (so much cake on board) to set up, speed back, get changed and back for the wedding. Shattering but so proud to be part of a beautiful day. Anyway, I was really excited about making the Reindeer, I love gingerbread, and had been hankering to make something gingerbready and suitably festive since I’d made Gingerdead Men for Halloween; so these really did tick the right boxes.
Just like the Gingerdead Men, these are so effective and pretty simple – a gingerbread man cutter, or in my case a gingerbread girl (I thought her skirt gave the antlers a little more shape), royal icing and an hour of your time – well maybe a little more time if you’re on a baking marathon! And if you really don’t fancy whipping up royal icing, you can buy the coloured icing tubes in the supermarket and they’ll take even less time.
As it is, the longest part of making these cuties is chilling the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge. They’re 5 minutes in the KitchenAid, 10 minutes in the oven and 5 minutes tops to decorate. Not wanting the Reindeer to feel left out when everyone was dressed with a little glamour for the wedding, I gave their antlers a coat of edible gold paint and made their noses out of red sugar paste. If you wanted to go down the ‘traditional gingerbread man’ route you could use gum drops, Smarties or M&Ms instead, but I thought the little sugar paste balls suited better. Heck if you wanted traditional, turn the gingerbread men up the right way and give them a face and buttons; but these are a little more festive.
So then, I’ve popped you the recipe below; trust me when I say they’re pretty simple. Oh and if you’re wondering about getting the design the same each time, the secret is an edible food pen. When the cookies have cooled, draw on your design and pipe over the top. Et voilà!
- 350g Plain flour
- 150g Soft light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Ground ginger
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Bicarb of Soda
- 100g Unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 Egg, medium
- 4 tbsp Golden syrup
- Black food pen
- Royal icing
- Black gel food colouring
- Edible gold paint
- Red sugarpaste
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and bicarb of soda. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips. The rubbed-in mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs or sand. Alternatively you can mix the dough in a stand mixer.
- Add the sugar to the rubbed-in mixture.
- In a separate bowl, add the egg and golden syrup. Whisk together.
- Make a well in the centre of the rubbed-in mixture, and pour in the egg and golden syrup.
- Mix together to form a smooth dough.
- Roll the dough into a sausage, wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of approximately 3-5mm.
- Using a gingerbread man cutter, cut out as many gingerbread men as possible.
- Gently lift onto the lined baking tray with a flat palette knife.
- Make sure the gingerbread men are spaced well apart to allow them to spread when they are baking.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Take the gingerbread men out of the oven and slide them off the baking tray and onto a cooling rack to cool.
- When the gingerbread men are cooled, turn them upside down, so their feet are at the top.
- Using the food pen, draw the reindeer outline onto each gingerbread man including the antlers, eyes, eyebrows, ears and mouth.
- Trace over the outline with the royal icing, using a small round nozzle or a piping bag with the tip snipped off. Make sure the opening isn't too wide else the outline will flood out rather than be fine.
- Add a little black gel food colouring to the remaining royal icing and add the eyebrows, pupils and mouth.
- Add a dot of icing where you would like the nose to be, and add a small ball of red sugar paste.
- When the royal icing is dry, go over the antlers with the edible gold paint.