It is cold outside, there is snow on the ground, it’s gingerbread time. This seems to be more of a north american festive tradition (though inherited from the British of course) but it is one that I am willing to embrace, with a couple of tiny tweaks. After a bit of a bad experience with the ‘traditional’ candy and store bought version, I decided to opt for a more home made approach and let’s face it, that is always a good idea.
This week Huwyl and I have been reading the story of the Gingerbread Man as well as Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby so it seemed appropriate to make some lovely biscuits to go along with our reading time. And tea-time. And mid-afternoon-it’s-time-for-a-biscuit-time. We did actually make some of these prior to today but due to the speed at which they were snaffled no pictures were possible.
It’s tough to beat the satisfaction of a cutter pushing through sweet, sugar crunchy dough. At first Huwyl told me he wasn’t interested in doing any cutting but the lure of the cutters soon pulled him in. We made little people, angels/fairies, snow men and solstice suns.
Huwyl decorated the suns with raisins as we talked about the meaning of the coming solstice. I’ve been telling him a simple solstice story since he was a baby, I remember walking the woods with him on my back, knowing he wouldn’t understand but taking pleasure in the story none the less. Now here we are, years along and he is beginning to take notice of these familiar words.
I tell him that as we approach the winter solstice the sun begins to die (he gets a little worried at this point) but all is well. Though the sun dies at the end of the day we light candles and send him wishes for strength to be reborn the next day. He returns to the Earth goddess and is reborn the next day. But like all babies he is weak which is why it stays cold and wintery for many months to come. But by summer he will have gained his full strength and that is why summer is the season of heat when all our food for the next year is grown.
I love that alongside the traditional gingerbread man with raisins for buttons (much less deadly than the green and red candy that sends my children into the stratosphere) we have christmas bells, snowmen, fairies (or angels) and the solstice sun, smiling out at us. What could go more perfectly together than the story of the sun’s life and the warming sweetness of gingerbread biscuits, soft yet crunchy and adding a tingle to the tongue.
12 oz / 350g of all purpose (plain) flour
1 tea spoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
4 oz / 100g of butter
6 oz / 175g brown or yellow sugar
4 table spoons of golden syrup
2 beaten eggs
raisins or currants for decoration
Preheat oven to 190c/ 375f. Mix together flour, bicarb, ground ginger and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in sugar. Add the syrup and eggs until the mix resembles a soft dough. Roll out to about 1/4 inch deep and cut into appropriately festive shapes then place on a greased baking tray (I use baking parchment). Bake for 10 mins for a softer biscuit with a nice crunch, if you want something that challenges the dentures a little more bake for up to 15 mins but watch carefully for burning as they turn quickly. I baked for 10 mins and they were about spot on.
Enjoy with a cup of tea and a snuggely read in front of the fire.