Is there anything better then it being all rainy and miserable outside and your house being snug and warm with the festive smell of cinnamon, ginger and orange? To me its the winter equivalent of a cool pillow and glass of chilled Pimms on a hot summers day.
This delicious recipe for orange zest gingerbread is really simple to make, if you have children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews they can add the ingredients to the saucepan before its heated, then lick the mixture off the spoon (always the best bit about baking) whilst the dough rests in the fridge. And of course they can assist in rolling out the dough, cutting the shapes and making a fine old mess decorating them! (I always did – still do!)
The mixture for this orange zest gingerbread can take a little bit of tough love too, if its pressed and squeezed a lot by little hands it shouldn’t affect the outcome too much. I tend to roll out my mixture once, cut as many as I can, then roll again and cut a second round of cookies. After this it will start to get a bit tough, so you should probably eat any left over scraps of dough so they don’t get wasted…
The below recipe makes about 20 gingerbread men, or you can always halve it if you are making smaller shapes like stars, hearts, snowflakes etc. The texture of the orange zest gingerbread mixture is meant to be quite sticky, as long as it cleans the side of the saucepan and you can tip it out in one go then it is the right consistency. You can always add a little more flour if the mixture is too sticky to remove from the saucepan, just go steady with the flour or the gingerbread will be to dry and crumble really easily. Remember that the dough will firm up in the fridge and be less soft and sticky.
To decorate, I used white icing sugar mixed with a little hot water and a good squeeze of lemon juice then pipe it on to the cookies. I used a piping bag with a size 1 round nozzle, but you could easily coat the whole biscuit with icing the back of a spoon for a more rustic look! I adore the fresh sharpness of the lemon against the rich sweetness of the gingerbread. You can also add dried fruit, sweets or whatever makes you feel festive!
(For my orange zest gingerbread cookies I used this Snowflake Cookie Cutter)
Top tip – I like to dip a tablespoon into hot water so that the golden syrup and treacle slide off the spoon and easily into then pan.
- 3oz (75g) Soft Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup
- 1 Tablespoon of Treacle
- 2 Teaspoons of Ground Ginger
- 1 Pinch of Ground Cloves
- Finley grated rind of ½ an Orange
- 3.5oz (95g) Butter
- ½ Teaspoon of Bicarbinate of Soda
- 8oz (225g) Plain Flour
- Place a large saucepan on the hob.
- Put the soft brown sugar, golden syrup, treacle, ginger and cloves into the saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of cold water.
- Heat at a medium temperature until the ingredients begin to bubble, stir regularly to avoid the sugar burning.
- Once bubbling add the butter and stir.
- Remove from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda, and stir.
- Add the flour and the orange zest and stir until combined. Place a square of clingfilm on the side, and once the dough cleans the side of the saucepan (It will be a sticky looking mixture, but should leave the pan as one piece of dough - add a little more flour if it is really sticky).
- Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.
- Once firmed, preheat the oven to 180'C and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until about 4mm thick.
- Cut two pieces of baking paper to line two flat baking trays.
- Using the cookie cutters or template of your choice cut the dough into shapes and place them onto the trays. You can place them reasonably close together as they don't spread a huge amount - about 1cm apart should be fine.
- Bake for 10 - 15mins, swapping the shelves half way through so you don't end up with a pale and a dark batch.
- Once cooked leave to cool on the trays for 5mins, then place them on a wire cooling rack.
- Decorate once cool, using the sweets and icing of your choice!