Oh God. I am such a sucky blogger! I am doing the unthinkable – recycling one of last year’s festive posts because I’m too lazy to write a new one – WHO EVEN AM I??? To be fair, it isn’t because I’m lazy. I would give anything right now to be able to sit down and work on my content, but this is the busiest time of year for us at work, all my festive socialising now has to be done 50 miles away from where I live and we also decided to do MORE redecorating, because we hate ourselves. Amidst all this lovely chaos that seems to be my life right now, I seem to have run out of ready to go content, and I’m ashamed to say the blog has just had to take a bit of a back seat. I very much hope to get back on track in the new year, and may be even – gasp – give the blog that makeover I’ve been talking about forever, but for now I’m trying to focus my attentions on seeing my lovely and much neglected friends, making a home and, most importantly, making sure Dan doesn’t give himself an ulcer with all the additional work he has tasked himself with, bless him.
On a plus note, at least the post is timely this year. I actually originally posted it at the end of January, and had to make up a load of waffle about why you should eat the things you like all year round just to make it relevant, so I’m glad I’ve found a second chance to post it within the season it was intended and perhaps provide a little Christmas baking inspo. These are a festive favourite for us, and I plan to make them again next weekend (I say plan to – what was our only free weekend before Christmas has somehow evolved to containing a dinner out, drinks at the pub and cooking a Sunday roast for the family, so we’ll see how it goes…!) So without further ado…..
I like to bake at Christmas – mainly because I like to do something personal for my loved ones that shows I care, and I’ve always thought there is no better way of caring for someone than feeding them! But also because it’s nice to have some treats to offer when you have so many people dropping by the house, so I’ve always made a point of ensuring I have something homemade to hand, and it just always seems to turn out to be gingerbread! It’s partly because it’s an incredibly easy and pretty quick thing to whip up, and largely uses ingredients you’re likely to have to hand if you’re a keen baker – otherwise they are all very easy to come by. But it is also the warm, nostalgic flavour that has me coming back to it every year, so it’s becoming a tradition of sorts. It’s taken me a few years to perfect the flavour I was looking for – something that is a bit of a signature for me (my sister in law always bakes us chocolate chip cookies for Christmas, and they’ve become legendary in our family, which I love!) and this year I really felt like I nailed it. So I’d made a mental note to remember to post about it next year in the run up to Christmas. But in the spirit of not abiding by silly rules about what is and isn’t strictly a festive treat I decided to go ahead and post it anyway – because there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy these all year round! In fact, they got eaten pretty quickly and I’ve been hankering for them ever since, so I might even whip up another batch myself!!
Technically, I think this recipe is more like the German lebkuchen than classic gingerbread, so has that nice, soft and squishy centre – but the flavours I’ve tweaked to make it my own! Hope you enjoy!
250g plain flour
85g ground almonds
3 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml honey or golden syrup
A pinch each of nutmeg and ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 2 oranges
For the icing:
Juice of 2 oranges
150g icing sugar
First, melt the butter and the honey or syrup together on a low heat, then leave to cool a little. Tip the rest of the ingredients into a bowl, then add the butter and honey. Mix well (you’re gonna have to get your hands sticky for this bit if you don’t have a mixer!) until a firm dough is formed. Set aside to cool for around 30 mins.
Preheat your oven to 180c/Gas 4 and prep two baking trays with sheets of baking parchment. Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour to avoid sticking, then get to rolling your dough flat – I found it easier to break the dough into two halves as you get quite a lot out of this mix. Once baked, the biscuits will rise a little so bear this in mind, but the thicker you roll, the softer the centre will be. I’d look to go no thinner than around 1cm thick, but a thinner dough will give you a crisper finish. Once rolled out, use a cutter – I’ve gone for a fairly small star shape here as it’s festive and nicely bite sized – to start cutting out your biscuits, laying them on the try as you go. The size I used gives you around 50 biscuits, but you can go as big or small as you want! You will need to re-roll the dough each time you run out of space until it’s all used. Leave a little space between each on the tray to expand, though if your dough is firm enough you should find they keep their shape and don’t spread too much! Bake for 15 minutes (don’t be put off if they don’t go brown, these look quite pale when they come out).
For the icing, whisk the two ingredients together until smooth – I prefer more of a coating rather than a thick icing so with these amounts the consistency should be fairly runny, but you can thicken up according to your tastes by adding more icing sugar. Brush on to your biscuits with a pastry brush – I find 3 or 4 coats works quite nicely, but again, it can be adjusted according to how much of a sweet tooth you have!
Where possible, when cutting your biscuits, try to avoid cracks in the dough as this will make the structure more fragile when baked. A few of mine snapped in half when adding the icing as I’d been lazy when rolling my dough! That did mean I got to eat them though, so….
Anyone else’s tummy rumbling right now?!