As I make these gingerbread cookies in my kitchen, music playing in the background, cat sleeping on a chair next to me, Duncan working away at the computer, my mind travels to my childhood. When my brother and I were little, my parents had a brilliant idea of keeping us both quiet and too busy to fight. All it took was a box of plasticine and an MDF board each (times were tough in communist Poland 😉 ). Suddenly fighting subsided as we both got busy building rival plasticine cities, complete with trees, passers-by, city squares, joined by a single bridge, which we would theatrically rip out whenever we fell out over something again. It may sound odd but you end up quite clued up on city planning when both your parents are architects 🙂 .
I’ve always been a bit of a nerd child (can you believe it? Moi?) who loved details and making intricate things with my hands so it was a perfect occupation for me. Decorating these cookies reminded me of spending hours obsessing over the shape of my plasticine trees 😉 . And if you were thinking ‘did she get her 2 year old neighbour to decorate these?’, you’re entirely forgiven as I am the first one to admit that my icing skills do need a bit of work. The thing is that being fairly health conscious, I am not a big fan of sugar icing so I never get a chance to practise. The icing does make these cookies though so I decided not to be that uptight about a bit of extra sugar.
- 105 g / approx. ½ + 1/8 cup softened refined coconut oil (I use this one)
- 105 g / scant ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 45 ml / 3 tbsp aquafaba*
- 110 ml / scant ½ cup maple syrup*
- 330 g / 2 ½ + 1/8 cup all purpose flour*
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 3 level tsp ground ginger
- 3 level tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground all spice
- ¾ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 1-2 cups icing sugar
- matcha powder, for green colour (optional)
- beetroot juice, for pink colour (optional)
- very finely chopped pistachios (optional)
- Place coconut oil in a small pot and melt it on the lowest setting. Let it cool down a little bit.
- Sift the flour into a medium size bowl. Add baking soda, all the spices and salt. Mix really well.
- Place melted coconut oil, dark brown sugar and reduced aquafaba in a large bowl. Cream them together with an electric whisk until well combined and slightly thickened. Add maple syrup and whisk some more until you get a homogeneous mixture.
- Fold 1/3 of the flour mix into the wet ingredients and, once combined, add the remaining two thirds, one by one. Make sure there are no flour pockets and everything is well combined but do not knead. The dough will be quite loose and sticky, that’s fine, it’s the way it should be. Divide the dough roughly into 2 portions and wrap each in a piece of cling film (glad wrap). Place them in the fridge for at least 1 hour. You can safely keep it in the fridge overnight too.
- Before you are about to take the dough out of the fridge, set the oven to 175° C / 350° F and line two baking trays with a piece of baking paper.
- After resting, take the first portion of the dough out of the fridge. Give it a few minutes to bring it to room temperature. Roll it out (gently pressing with a rolling pin) on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out quite thick (about 5 mm / 0.2 inch) and cut the cookies out of it with cookie cutters. If you want the cookies to be crunchy, roll them out a bit thinner and bake them for longer.
- Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays. You don’t need to leave a lot of space between them as they don’t expand much. Group similar size cookies together so that they cook in the same time. Bake small cookies for about 7-9 minutes and larger for 10-12 minutes. The longer you bake them for the crispier (and less soft and chewy) they will turn out so adjust baking time to your preference.
- To make the icing, mix icing sugar with a very small amount of water (added very gradually) until you obtain a thick sugar paste. I used beetroot juice (squeezed with my hand from 1 coarsely grated beetroot) instead of water to make pink icing and a touch of matcha powder (and water) to make green icing. If you want to do that divide the icing sugar between 3 bowls and treat each portion accordingly.
- Place your icing into a small plastic or pastry bag. Push it all into one corner and cut a tiny bit off that corner with a pair of scissors. Start with a small hole and make it bigger if necessary. Apply the icing by squeezing the icing through the hole.
*MAPLE SYRUP: for extra gingerbread taste, sub some of the maple syrup with 60 ml / 4 tbsp of molasses or black treacle. Use unsulphured dark or light molasses for best results, blackstrap molasses contribute bitter taste so use only a small amount 2 tbsp.
*GLUTEN-FREE VERSION: use 330 g / 2 ½ + 1/8 cup GF flour mix and ¾ teaspoon of xanthan gum (unless the mix contains xanthan gum already).
*FREEZING: This dough freezes very well. You can make it in advance, divide into 4 portions (so that it thaws quicker) and freeze wrapped up in cling film. Defrost a few hours before you are ready to start baking.