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Create a festive centrepiece for your table

 

Gingerbread is the perfect confectionary with which to impress your guests with a showstopping centrepiece, or to bake as handmade festive gifts for loved ones…

 

 

This classic all-purpose gingerbread recipe is ideal for cookies, treats and small structures. It produces an even-baked surface and edge, can be re-rolled, refrigerated and frozen, although these recipes are best used on the day they have been made.

112g golden syrup
68g dark brown sugar
68g butter
300g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 pinch of cloves
1⁄2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda 3.75ml water

Half a beaten egg – approximately 25g

1 Weigh and measure the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spice. Mix until the spice is evenly distributed, then sieve into a mixing bowl.

2 Beat the egg lightly.
3 Melt the golden syrup, dark brown sugar and butter together in
a saucepan until all
the sugar granules have dissolved. Do not boil. Allow to cool a little.
4 Make a well in the middle of the flour and spice mix and pour in
the melted syrup, dark brown sugar and butter. Add the egg and water.
5 Stir with a spatula to combine and knead to form a stiff dough.
6 Transfer the dough into an airtight plastic bag
(or wrap in greaseproof paper) and allow to cool completely and rest at room temperature before use.

7 Preheat oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan/Gas 4.

8 Roll out and cut the gingerbread to the required shapes and thickness on baking parchment or a silicone mat using a cutter or template. Then slide on to a flat baking sheet covered with baking parchment. Bake for 8-15 minutes until evenly golden brown. (Note that baking times will depend on the size and thickness of the items)

9 Take the baking sheets from the oven and allow to cool before using a palette knife to transfer items to a cooling rack.

 

Vegan gingerbread

Follow the classic gingerbread recipe and method but replace the same quantity of butter with dairy free vegan margarine and replace the egg with 1tsp of finely milled flax meal mixed with 25ml water. Allow the flax meal mixed with water to stand for 15 minutes before use – this allows the flax meal to swell in the water.

 

Coloured gingerbread

The beautiful golden colour of gingerbread is wonderful on its own; however, when it is used in combination with different coloured gingerbreads, you can create amazing effects. Certain colours perfectly complement the natural golden hues of gingerbread – red and yellow work particularly well, as do red and green.

Edible paste colours have been used to colour gingerbread in this book. These are the same pastes used in cake decoration and sugarcraft. The paste colours are added to the butter, caster sugar and golden syrup as they are being melted together. This disperses the colour well.

Add concentrated paste colour to one batch of pale gingerbread. I use the ‘Sugarflair Extra’ range as it produces vivid colours. However, I recommend that you do a little experimentation before you commit any colour to your gingerbread

  1. Gather, weigh and measure your ingredients.
  2. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spice until the spice is evenly distributed, then sieve into a mixingbowl.
  3. Melt the golden syrup, caster sugar, butter and ½tsp of your chosen food colouring together in a saucepan. Do not allow to boil.
  4. Beat the egg lightly. Make a well in the middle of the flour and spice mix and pour in the egg and water.
  5. Pour in the melted coloured syrup, caster sugar and butter mixture.
  6. Stir with a spatula to combine.
  7. Knead to form a stiff dough, then transfer the dough into an airtight food storage bag (or wrap in greaseproof paper) and allow to cool and rest at room temperature for 20–30 minutes before use.

 

METHOD

1 batch of green gingerbread dough

Half a batch of classic gingerbread dough

Quarter batch of red gingerbread dough

Vegetable shortening

Sugarcraft wheel cutter

Paring knife, serrated knife Scribing tool

30mm star cutter 10mm circle cutter

Green, white and gingerbread-coloured royal icing

Silver sugar balls (dragées)

Piping bags

Number 2 piping nozzle

180mm round white iced cake board

15mm wide ribbon to trim the display board

1 Create tree trunk and branch templates – the tree should be approx. 20cm high and 7.5cm at the widest point – and cut them out. Roll out the green gingerbread dough on baking parchment or a silicone mat using 3mm spacers. Cover both sides of the template for the tree branches and one side of those for the tree trunks with vegetable shortening (which stops the templates and dough sticking together). Use a wheel cutter and the tree branch template to cut three left tree branch panels. Turn the template over and cut three right panels. Use the tree trunk template to cut the two tree centre strips.

2 Roll out a sheet of classic gingerbread dough and a smaller sheet of red dough.
Cut a 15cm diameter circle from the classic gingerbread dough using a paper template. Cut out two 30mm star shapes and about 40 x 10mm circles. Then cut about 40 x 10mm red circles. Bake all the sections, the base and the decorations. Allow to cool. You also need 55 to 60 edible silver balls (dragées).

3 Pipe a wavy line of green royal icing on to one of the tree trunk strips and sandwich or fix both strips together. Allow to dry hard. You may need to trim the strips with a knife to ensure straight sides.

 

 

4 Fix the two star shapes together with a small amount of white royal icing.

5 Carefully trim the bottom and inside edges of the tree branch panels so they are straight and at right angles.

 

 

6 Decorate both sides of each tree panel with the small gingerbread circles and silver balls, fixing them in place with green royal icing. Allow them to dry. Ensure that you set aside one or two of the classic gingerbread circles for fixing the star in the final stages.

 

7 Lay the base template over the gingerbread base. With a scribing tool, lightly prick out six dots, one on each line 40mm out from the centre of the circle. Mark the centre point as well.

8 Lightly scribe lines between the dots to use as a guide when positioning the panels.

9 Assemble the tree by first fixing the tree trunk to the circular base with green royal icing. Ask someone to hold it in place for you.

10 Next, using the scribe lines as a guide, fix the green tree panels to the trunk and the base with green royal icing.

11 Fix one of the set-aside 10mm circles to the top of the tree with green royal icing. Add an additional circle if the trunk isn’t quite long enough.

12 Fix the star in place with gingerbread- coloured royal icing.

 

 

 

Recipe from Modern Gingerbread by Sandra Monger (Search Press, £12.99)

OFFER: Free P&P if you order this book at searchpress.com using code CANDISXMAS

(valid until 31 December 2021)

 

 

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