Can you believe it’s December already? This year has absolutely zoomed by (that’s what getting married does!) and it’s been a struggle at times to keep up. Now I’m determined to kick back and enjoy the run up to Christmas – it’s my absolute favourite time of the year! I think sometimes it’s good to just practice being in the moment – not looking backwards at everything you haven’t managed to get done and not thinking about the weeks to come and worrying about how you’re going to fit it all in. When I want to clear my head and let my imagination wander I head to the kitchen. I’m so excited to share this awesome recipe for gingerbread snowflakes with you today!
The recipe is originally by Delia Smith – I adapted it very slightly by substituting the plain white flour for wholemeal spelt flour and adding a little ground mace which is one of my favourite spices and one which doesn’t make an appearance often enough in my opinion! The smell of mace reminds me of rummaging through my Mothers spice cupboard during my early foray into baking. As Delia mentions in the original recipe, the dough is very easy to work with so perfect for children! There’s nothing more frustrating than a dough with a bad attitude – a dough which mucks about and sticks to the work surface and rolling pin. This dough is robust and easy to roll out, shape and peel away! I decorated my snowflakes with piped royal icing for a frosty vibe – after a little trial and error I decided that the piping doesn’t need to be perfect to be pretty! Try a mixture of designs and if you’re stuck for inspiration my Christmas Pinterest board has plenty of ideas to try!
What sets this gingerbread apart from your usual namby pamby, basically-it's-a-biscuit gingerbread is the treacle. Dark, sticky and not quite sweet, treacle belongs to a bygone age. Here it adds a wonderful depth to the flavour of the finished gingerbread. Conveniently, the biscuits get even better after a couple of days in the tin, when they become lovely and toothsome with just a tiny bit of chewiness.
Ingredients for the gingerbread:
75g light brown soft sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded tsp ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
95g block of butter
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
225g wholemeal spelt flour (or plain white flour if preferred)
Ingredients for the royal icing:
1 egg white (free range, organic)
150g icing sugar, sifted
Snowflake shaped biscuit cutter (mine is made by Wilton and is available from Amazon here!)
Stand mixer with balloon whisk attachment (for making royal icing)
Piping bag fitted with a small, round nozzle
Place the sugar, syrup, treacle, spices water and orange zest in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring the whole time.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and bicarbonate of soda.
Carefully stir in the flour until you have a smooth, manageable dough. Add more flour if it looks as though it needs it.
Cover the dough in cling film and refrigerate until firm (approx 30 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)
Roll out the dough onto a floured work surface until approx. 1/2 cm thick.
Cut out your shapes and place them on a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper.
Bake in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes, until the biscuits feel firm when lightly pressed with a finger tip.
Leave to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
To make the royal icing...
Place the egg white in the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure it’s spotlessly clean and free from grease or the egg wont whisk up properly). Stir in the sifted icing sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until all the sugar is combined. Whisk on the highest speed for around 10 - 15 minutes – until the mixture is bright white and really fluffy. The mixture should form soft peaks when you lift up the arm of the mixer.
Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small, round nozzle.
Use the icing to pipe pretty patterns on your gingerbread! Store any left over icing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week!