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Gingerbread people


380g plain flour (Shipton Mill’s Soft Cake and Pastry Organic White Flour is perfect)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g dark muscovado sugar
30g golden syrup
30g black treacle
50g butter + 50g olive oil (vary combination to your own taste/preference)
2 tbsp ground ginger (less if you’re not keen on strong ginger taste)
Finely chopped root ginger, 15mm cube – only if you really like ginger!
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg

Writing / decorating icing (the squeezy type that comes in tubes of various colours)


Throw the sugar, syrup, treacle butter and oil into a Pyrex jug, (cover it with a bit of cling-film to stop spatter) and microwave on low/defrost for a couple of minutes. Keep a close eye on it! You don’t want it to burn. – Or do this in a saucepan if you’re “old school”, but be even more careful not to burn it!
Take it out and let it cool down for about 10 mins.

Dump the flour, bicarb and spices into your mixing bowl along with the warm syrup mixture, plus the egg.
If you have a good electric mixer, (I still use an ancient Kenwood Chef that was old and second-hand when it was my mum’s back in the 70s!), use the dough hook to mix well, and then turn down the speed so it kneads the dough into a smooth, uniformly coloured, homogeneous lump. Sparingly sprinkle in more flour if it’s too sticky, or a little milk if it’s too dry.

If you’re doing this by hand, use a big bowl, a big spoon, roll up your sleeves and marvel as your biceps increase in size!

Tip out of the bowl, wrap loosely in cling film put it the fridge for about half an hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and leave it to warm up and soften. (It will have firmed up in the fridge).

Meanwhile, heat up the oven to 180c and prepare a couple of baking trays with some grease-proof paper. (Rub a little olive oil on the tray, add the paper, rub some oil on the paper. Rub the rest into your hands – it’s a great moisturiser!

Sprinkle some flour onto your worktop and roll out the gingerbread dough to about 5-8mm. (thinner = more like biscuits, thicker = more like cookies).
Use a suitable shape cutter to cut out your gingerbread men (*other genders are available), animals, trees, whatever you like. Use up all the bits of dough.

Carefully transfer them onto the trays and bake for 10-12 mins. (Keep an eye on them. If they look like they're browning more on one side, turn the trays round.)
Let them cool for a little while on the trays before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely (or they’ll likely break).

Once cooled, use the icing and your imagination to bring them to life!
Allow the icing to dry for a couple of hours.

Credit to my daughter for her baking and decorating skills.