09 December 2015 by Mima Sinclair
The perfect seasonal mid-walk treat
Food stylist and recipe writer Mima Sinclair launched her new book, Gingerbread Wonderland, just in time for Christmas, so to celebrate, she’s sharing her recipe for seriously seasonal biscuits – take them on your next walk!
Prep: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus cooling and setting
Cook: 20 minutes
You start with a gingerbread man, turn him upside down and then you have Rudolph the reindeer’s cute face! It is simple and brilliant – the kids will go crazy for these.
For the gingerbread:
3¼ tbsp dark molasses/black treacle
2½ tbsp light molasses/golden syrup or honey
200g soft dark brown sugar
200g unsalted butter
Zest of 1/2 unwaxed orange
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten
For the royal icing:
750g icing sugar
3 medium egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons water
Red and black food colouring paste
60g cocoa powder
Edible gold lustre powder
A gingerbread man cutter approx 9cm
For gingerbread dough:
1. Pour the dark and light molasses into a large saucepan with the sugar, butter, zest and spices and melt over a low/medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to boiling point. Remove from the heat and beat in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will froth up as the bicarbonate reacts – mix briefly until combined, then leave to cool for 15 minutes.
3. Sift the flour and salt, then fold into the mixture in batches, using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer. Beat in the egg using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture, or the biscuits will spread during baking.
4. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but do not add any flour. Scrape out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead together until just smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for one hour.
For the icing:
1. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the beaten egg whites and lemon juice.
2. Whisk on a low speed – so you do not incorporate too much air into the icing – for 2–3 minutes, until you have a smooth, but not wet, stiff peak consistency. It should be dense and spreadable but hold a stiff peak. If it looks dry and crumbly add a little water. If it looks slightly runny and glossy, add a little extra icing sugar.
3. You now have stiff peak icing for sticking houses together and placing decorations onto icing. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. The icing can be prepared ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
You can adjust this icing to make soft peak and flood icing:
• Soft peak – add one drop of water at a time until you have icing that holds a soft peak but does not spread on its own. Use for piping lines, borders and decorations.
• Flood icing – add one teaspoon of water at a time until you have a thick but runny icing that smoothes out on its own within 15 seconds, but not so runny that it runs off the edge of your biscuit. Use for filling in outlined areas of biscuits.
For the biscuits:
1. Heat the oven to 160˚C/140˚C fan/gas mark 3. Line two large baking trays with silicone baking sheets or greaseproof paper.
2. Cut a large piece of greaseproof paper and roll out the gingerbread on top of it to a 5mm thickness. Using a gingerbread man cutter, cut out pieces of dough and use a palette knife to transfer them to the lined baking trays.
3. Place in the freezer for five minutes until hard. Bake in the oven in batches for 10 minutes, until golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool for five minutes, then carefully transfer with a palette knife to wire racks to cool completely.
4. Add a little water to the royal icing until you reach soft peak consistency. Get three small bowls and spoon two tablespoons of icing into each. Add red colouring to one, black to another and leave one white. Cover each with a damp cloth and then cover with cling film.
5. Add the cocoa powder to your remaining bowl of icing with a little water to bring it back to soft peak consistency, and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Pipe outlines of Rudolph’s head and antlers. Add a little extra water to the remaining brown icing to make flood icing – a thick but runny consistency. Spoon or pipe into the centres of the biscuits to fill the centres with icing. Leave to set for four hours or overnight.
6. For the red noses, repeat the process with the red icing, piping outlines, then filling with the flood icing. Use the white icing to pipe eyes. Leave to set for 15 minutes, then pipe little black pupils and mouths with the black icing. Very carefully, using a paintbrush, dab the gold lustre powder and brush gently over the antlers. Leave to set completely for one hour.
Recipe taken from Gingerbread Wonderland by Mima Sinclair. Published by Kyle Books, priced £8.99. Photography by Tara Fisher.
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