Christmas baking – Gingerbread trees, stars and more

Time for the last of my trio of Christmas gifts from my kitchen. This year is actually the first time I have made gingerbread at home as an adult, and I have to say I am very happy with the results. Not only does it taste nice, the gingerbread Christmas tree worked wonderfully, and the stars, snow flakes, angels and other shapes looked lovely decorated with royal icing.

The recipe below can be used to make whatever shapes you want out of gingerbread. You are only limited by either your imagination, or whatever cookie cutters you may have on hand.

My team's gingerbread Christmas tree
My team’s gingerbread Christmas tree

To make a tree out of gingerbread, you will need several star cutters in different sizes. For my larger tree I used 9 cutters ranging from 2.5cm (top stars) to 18cm in size. For the smaller one I used 5 cutters from 2.5cm to 9cm. You cut two stars out in each size. After they are baked and decorated (edges only), you stick them together with royal icing, alternating the positioning of the star so the points are in the gaps of the previous star. From two batches of this dough I got a small and a large tree, and lots of other shapes. I decorated my trees with bought decorating icings and gels, as they were decorated by my team at work. However at home, I decorated the gingerbread with white royal icing, which I prefer as it sets firm.

Mini tree

Gingerbread recipe

• 125g unsalted butter, room temperature
• 100g brown sugar
• 125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
• 1 egg yolk
• 375g plain flour (and extra to dust)
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon mixed spice
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• Royal icing to decorate (I used a pack of royal icing powder. Recipe to make royal icing here).

1. Line at least two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined.
3. Sift in the flour, ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon and bicarb and stir until combined. I found it easiest to mix with my hands to combine.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Make royal icing as per directions if using, colour, cover and refrigerate until needed.
6. Place half of the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm think. Cut out shapes and place on baking tray, keeping a few centimetres between each shape.
7. Repeat with remaining dough and any excess. If you find the dough gets too difficult to work with after rolling a few times, return it to the fridge to rest.
8. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly brown. Remove and transfer to a rack to cool.
9. Once cool, you can decorate as you desire, or turn stars into a Christmas tree.

Note: to make stained glass biscuits, cut a hole with a smaller cutter and place crushed boiled lollies in the middle. Bake as normal; however cool these on the tray rather than removing onto a rack. To make ornaments, cut a small hole at the top of the shape using a straw. Once baked and decorated, string with some ribbon.

GingerbreadGingerbread 2

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