For 18 to 20 gingerbread men you will need:
450 grams flour, plain/ all-purpose
3 teaspoons leavening agent
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spices (nutmeg, coriander)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
85 grams unsalted butter, softened
150 grams brown sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
180 grams molasses, light
Classic gingerbread men! This classic cut-out gingerbread man recipe is easy to make, perfect for decorating and always so delicious. They are made with the most flavorful warming spices, including lots of ginger and cinnamon. The process of baking gingerbread in the oven is sure to make your home smell amazing.
Pay attention to the consistency of the dough: if it gets too sticky, return it to the refrigerator for a while during the rolling/cutting process.
How to make gingerbread:
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. In a separate bowl, mix butter and sugar with a stationary or electric mixer for 2 minutes or until light and airy.
Add the egg and vanilla, then mix until smooth (about 30 seconds). Add molasses, stir for 1 minute.
Gradually add dry ingredients and stir until glimmers of flour disappear. Repeat until all the dry ingredients are blended, then stir for another 15 seconds. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until firm. (You can keep it in the refrigerator for 5 days or freeze it for 3 months).
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line 3 baking trays with baking parchment.
Take dough out of refrigerator and cut in half. Wrap half and return to refrigerator.
Lightly sprinkle a sheet of baking paper with flour. Place dough on top, sprinkle with flour. Place another sheet of baking paper on top. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is 4 mm thick. As you work, turn over and if the paper crumples, remove it and then place it again, smoothing out the folds.
Use a gingerbread mold to cut out the gingerbread figures, pressing hard to cut through them completely. If the dough sticks to the knife, dip it in flour.
Use a spatula to transfer the shapes to the baking tray. Place 6 pieces on the first sheet. Bake for 12 minutes (for classic light golden) or 14 minutes (for dark golden and crispy). Then remove and cool completely on a rack.
Meanwhile, gather up the scraps of dough, squeeze them together, and roll them out again. If the dough is sticky, return it to the refrigerator and work in the other half of the dough instead. Repeat the rolling out and carving. You should have a total of 18 to 20 gingerbread men (depending on the size of the cutter).
Fill and bake the 2nd and 3rd trays with gingerbread men, 6 to 8 on each tray, best to bake one tray at a time while you prepare the next.
Cool completely on trays, then decorate! Use some of the royal icing made in this recipe (see below). The recipe makes more than you need, so reduce the icing recipe or freeze the leftovers in a fully airtight pastry bag for future use. Enjoy!
What you need for delicious gingerbread:
Cloves are optional, but they add spice and warmth to the dough. If you’re missing one or two of the spices listed above, just skip them and replace with the same amount of ginger powder.
Softened butter: it should be pliable, but your fingers should not glisten with grease when you touch it. If it’s too soft, it will worsen the results of the cookie dough!
Brown sugar: light brown sugar gives the gingerbread a lighter color, you can also use dark brown sugar, which gives a richer and deeper brown color.
Big egg: this is a 55-60g egg, make sure it is room temperature – cold eggs don’t mix well and can chill the butter, which is not good.
The molasses is essential for the rich caramel flavor of the gingerbread! The golden syrup makes great molasses. Thick and dark honey will work too, but the cookies will spread out a bit, won’t have the same deep golden color and won’t taste as rich (still very, very good!). The maple syrup is too liquid. You can’t substitute molasses for sugar, either.
Tips for making the perfect gingerbread:
Shaping Tips. Gingerbread dough is quite soft and sticky, so the cookies become moist inside rather than dry. Refrigeration makes the dough easier to work with. That way, at any point in the rolling/cutting process, you can stop and put it in the refrigerator to make it easier to work with (don’t forget to cover the dough with clingfilm).
Rolling out the dough on baking paper / parchment is easiest. Don’t use too much flour, or the cooked gingerbread will leave a white flour residue on the cooked gingerbread.
Crispy or Soft Cookies – If you want a softer cookie with a signature golden color, bake for 12 minutes. For crispier and brighter cookies, bake for 14 minutes. The cookies will be soft right out of the oven, but will harden as they cool. Keep in mind, however, that crispy cookies become soft the next day.
These gingerbreads keep for 1 week in a tightly sealed airtight container. Dough – you can freeze the dough for up to 5 days or even freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator, then use as directed.