Gingerbread People

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes:

    19

    large cookies

Appears in

This gingerbread is delicious to eat and not too spicy, even for children. The cookies ctre perfect to string with bright fresh cranberries as garlands on the tree. Teddy bears and other favorite shapes are also fun to make.

INGREDIENTS MEASURE WEIGHT
volume ounces grams
bleached all-purpose flour 3 cups (dip and sweep method) 15 ounces 425 grams
salt ¼ teaspoon
baking soda 1 teaspoon 5 grams
ground ginger 2 teaspoons
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
grated nutmeg ½ teaspoon
ground cloves ¼ teaspoon
dark brown sugar ¾ cup (firmly packed) 6.25 ounces 179 grams
unsalted butter 12 tablespoons 6 ounces 170 grams
unsulfured molasses (preferably Grandma’s) ½ cup (use a greased liquid measuring cup) 5.5 ounces 161 grams
1 large egg 3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon 1.75 ounces  50 grams

(weighed without shell)

OPTIONAL: raisins, currants, decorative candies
Royal Icing
3 large egg whites 3 fluid ounces 3 ounces 90 grams
powdered sugar 4 cups (lightly spooned into the cup) 1 pound 460 grams
Preheat the oven to: 350°F.
Baking time: 8 to 10 minutes for small cookies 10 to 12 minutes for large cookies
STORE: In an airtight container at room temperature.
KEEPS: For several months.

Method

Food Processor Method

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices, then whisk together to mix evenly.

In a food processor with the metal blade, process the brown sugar until fine. Cut the butter into a few pieces and add it with the motor running. Process until smooth and creamy. Add the molasses and egg and process until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and pulse in just until the dough begins to clump together.

Electric Mixer Method

Soften the butter. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices, then whisk together to mix evenly. In a mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and beat until blended. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture until incorporated.

For Both Methods

Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap (preferably Saran brand) and use the wrap, not your fingers, to press the dough together to form a thick flat disc. Wrap it well and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.

Place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

On a floured pastry cloth, roll out the dough to about -inch thickness. Use gingerbread cutters to cut out the dough. With a small, angled metal spatula or pancake turner, lift the cut dough onto the cookie sheets, placing the cutouts about 1 inch apart. If desired, make holes for hanging, either at the tops or hands, using the blunt edge of a wooden skewer.

Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes for the small cookies, up to about 10 to 12 minutes for the larger ones, or until firm to the touch and just beginning to color around the edges. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for about 1 minute. When they are firm enough to lift, use a small, angled metal spatula or pancake turner to transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cookies are still hot and slightly soft, if desired, press raisins, currants, cinnamon red-hots or other candy into the dough (for eyes and buttons). They can also be attached, using dots of Royal Icing as glue, after the cookies have cooled. Royal Icing, either white or tinted with food coloring, can be used to pipe details or frilly borders. The icing can be thinned slightly with a few drops of water and used to paint decorative motifs on the baked cookies. For a very special, dramatic effect, cut out rectangular or other shape plaques from the dough and personalize them for use as place cards or even as menus or greeting cards. The writing can be done with piped Royal Icing. To create stands, cut and bake triangles of gingerbread and attach them with Royal Icing to the back of the gingerbread plaques. Allow the icing to dry at least 24 hours before standing the plaques upright.

NOTE: Gingerbread for a cathedral or house can be made even more sturdy by reducing the amounts of sugar and butter. Use ½ cup (4.25 ounces/120 grams) of firmly packed dark brown sugar and ½ cup (4 ounces/113 grams) of unsalted butter. For further stability plus a delicious flavor, spread melted bittersweet or semisweet chocolate onto the back of the baked, cooled gingerbread.

Royal Icing

This recipe has an excellent consistency for piping. For painting, thin the icing with water.

In a large mixing bowl, place the egg whites and sugar and beat, preferably with the whisk beater, at low speed, until the sugar is moistened. Beat at high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form when the beater is lifted (5 to 7 minutes). The tips of the peaks should curve slightly. If necessary, more powdered sugar may be added. Keeps 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Rebeat lightly.

Royal Icing with Meringue Powder*

*Meringue powder is available through cake-decorating supply houses such as Maid of Scandinavia (800-328-6722) and the Chocolate Gallery (212-675-2253).

Replace the egg whites with 3 tablespoons of meringue powder and 3 fluid ounces (6 tablespoons) of warm water (this is approximately the amount of water contained in the eggs). Proceed as for basic Royal Icing. Keeps 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Rebeat lightly.

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