I spent four hours yesterday baking gingerbread cookies. Four. Hours. Standing on the very hard wooden floor of the kitchen, barefoot in my wooly socks and quietly cursing the fridge cold cookie dough for being so hard to roll out.
After the first few trays I realised the trick was to make GM use his 190cm of manliness to flatten it with the rolling pin, and then doing the less physically demanding bits of cutting and baking the cookies myself.
At any rate, the cookies turned out lovely, and I shall decorate a large heart shaped one tonight to say "For GM, the strongest baker in the world" and hang it in the window.
I compiled the recipe myself, and I think it came out well, although next year I will add allspice and more pepper to the mix for extra flavour.
(makes a really large tin of little cookies and two larger hearts for hanging)
220 grams dark syrup (line the measuring cup with unflavoured oil to reduce stickiness)
220 grams sugar
220 grams butter
1ts ground cinnamon
1ts ground cloves
1ts ground cardamom
1/2 ts ground black pepper
1ts ground, dried ginger
660 grams plain flour
1ts cream of tartar
Melt the butter in a pan large enough to fit all the ingredients. Take it off the hob and add the syrup. Mix the sugar and spice and add this to the pan. Give the eggs a light whisk and add them. Last of all, sieve the flour and raising agent into the pan and give everything a good stir. Just to warn you, this requires some man power and a sturdy spoon... I've broken one in the past trying to do it. Leave in the fridge overnight.
On baking day, preheat oven to 180 degrees C, or 170 if you are using a fan oven. Roll a chunk of cookie dough out to a thickness of about 3mm for cookies and 4-5mm for larger decorational items or a house if you are ambitious.
Use cookie cutters to make shapes and move them to a lined baking tray. I find this whole operation easiest to do with cool dough on a silicone mat, which means you don't have to add any flour in the process.
Bake for about 8 min. for small cookies and a little longer for the larger shapes, the cookies should brown slightly, although this is surprisingly difficult to tell. Cool on a rack, decorate with icing and store in an air tight container. Taste delicious with hot spiced apple juice or some mulled wine.