Christmas brings with it a nice smell of butter and cinnamon, spiced roast and potatoes – all of which are irresistible and calming. You can’t have a proper Christmas party without at least one of these elements.
My first attempt at gingerbread cookies was in Dresden, and that was more than twelve years ago. That was during my stint to obtain a stipendium so as to have a chance to learn German and its culture in Dresden while I was a student at the Goethe-Institut. We didn’t really get to make the dough per se (because it takes 2 hours to settle in the fridge) but we all had fun rolling out the dough and creating all shapes and sizes (few of which are in the shape of gingerbread men). The best thing about that particular gingerbread making session was that we were all different races, cultures, nationalities who came together and gathered at one place to learn about a totally different culture. Nothing beats that. My best gingerbread memory and experience ever.
Thinking back of the past now, I’m really glad that I did all that I did back then, learning what I wanted to (German language), immersing in another culture out of curiosity (in Germany) and then of course, packing up and leaving for the UK to do my Masters. These were not any plans for the long-term, just ‘at-the-moment I wanted to’ kind of interests I had. I saved up hard and I played hard, and I have never regretted things since then. Imagine trying to do all these things now, in post-Covid manner. Everything would have changed. Even if people could still travel around, there would be so many more restraints that wouldn’t have existed if not for Covid, and many more wary people around who are skeptical and pursue Asian hate for no better reasons. My heart aches for the state the world is in now.
The next time I bake gingerbread cookies, I’m going to try decorating them properly, with colourful icing sugar and legit gingerbreadman cookie cutters. And I hope that by then, the world would already be a much better place – for you and for me and the entire human race.
- Unsalted butter: 250g, softened at room temperature
- Brown sugar: 1 cup (or 3/4 cup if preferred to be less sweet)
- Golden syrup: 1 cup
- Plain flour: 5 cups
- Ground ginger: 2 tsp
- Ground cinnamon: 2 tsp
- Baking of soda: 2 tsp
- Icing sugar: for dusting
- Beat butter with sugar till light and creamy.
- Add in golden syrup, plain flour, ginger, cinnamon and baking soda.
- Mix together to form a soft dough. Divide into 4 flat circles.
- Cling wrap and freeze for 1hr.
- Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
- Roll out each circle between 2 pieces of baking sheets till 5mm thick.
- Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on greased baking sheet in tray.
- Bake 15min till golden brown. Leave to cool for 15min.
- Dust with icing sugar before serving or storing.
The original recipe calls for the dough to be chilled for 1hr. But because the dough is so soft and malleable, I decided to put it in the freezer instead to cut down on the waiting time. This makes the dough easier to handle and allows it to be rolled out more easily too.
Do work fast on the rolling as the dough melts quite quickly out of the fridge, especially in a humid and hot country like Singapore!
Somehow or other, I always can’t find a gingerbread man cookie cutter during Christmas, right before I am planning for a baking session. But the ones I have at home works well too, with flowers and stars, heart shapes and all things nice.
Approximately 70 – 80 medium-sized pieces