My simplified recipe is perfect for little ones. A milder flavour than a more traditional gingerbread made with treacle and a range of spices, this recipe is all mixed in one bowl and baked in under 10 minutes. Smalls will have so much fun squashing and rolling dough and cutting out shapes.
Decorating gingerbread men is also a great playdate or birthday party activity. Why not make the biscuits in advance and set out icing, spoons and brushed and let the little ones get creative? Royal icing works best. It can be spread thick or used like paint with a new or sterilised paint brush - just be careful you don't get bristles in the icing. If you're a keen baker, you can buy culinary paint brushes for this, which don't shed. I'll pop them on my kit list. You can buy royal icing as ready made powder or make it from scratch using egg whites and normal icing sugar.
185g butter or stork
150g soft brown sugar
75g golden syrup
450g plain flour
1/2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
I am going to give you the fastest way to do this, but if you have older children or want a more involved activity, then you might like them to weigh out the ingredients. For different ways to set up a bake check out my top tips post.
1. Pre-weigh the butter, sugar & golden syrup into a pan and melt in advance. You can also pre weigh the flour, bicarb & ginger - if you want to give them the idea of measuring they can then scoop this pre-weighed mix into the main mixing bowl.
2. Pour the melted ingredients into the dry and mix together either with a wooden spoon or in a mixer. This will form the dough. If you're using a mixer then you will notice that the sides of the bowl start to come clean when the dough is done. If mixing by hand, you'll start to struggle to use the spoon to mix it. At that point, get your hands in and squish it together into a dough.
3. If you want really defined biscuits (if you're baking for an event or for gifts) then it's best to chill the dough for 30 minutes. If you're little ones can't wait though, just go for it, they'll be fine. Roll the dough to about a centimetre thick and cut out your shapes.
I always find it helpful to let little ones have some time just to play and practice with cutters. If you give them time to enjoy the sensory experience of playing with the dough then they are more likely to want to try and cut them out 'properly.' I also like to have the baking tray really close to them so the transfer of floppy gingerbread men is less likely to result in decpaitation, although you can just squidgy missing limbs back together and they'll bake just fine.
4. Bake at 180° for 8-10 minutes. You want to bring them out when they are just browned, but no where near dark. They should still be a bit soft in the middle. They'll harden as the cool and you will end up with a nice soft cookie texture that little ones can manage rather than a hard snap.
5. Cool on a wire rack and decorate. Use a pre made royal icing mix to pipe a face and buttons and stick sprinkles on top, or water down different colours of royal icing to use like paint.