Gingerbread Men Recipe
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
We love our gingerbread. I’m from the part of Poland where we eat gingerbread all year round (Torun). Gingerbread there is treated as a regular spiced cake, a delicacy which is enjoyed at any time of the year. We love the real gingerbread taste and we spend a lot of time aiming to get the real deal when it comes to gingerbread.
So, what type of cookie are you getting here?
- Cookies are well spiced - mixing spices, as in the recipe, will give you a unique flavour. We are going for ginger, cinnamon and cloves as leading spices here. In most of gingerbread recipes there is only small amount of cloves used - here, we are adding as much cinnamon as cloves. There is a good reason - in baked cookie this will give you a really punchy and spicy flavour (don’t worry - cloves won’t overtake the flavour of the cookie). What’s a little bit unusual in this recipe is the addition of black pepper. In the region where I am from, black pepper is added to every gingerbread. Why? It simply intensifies spice flavour, giving this cookie that extra spicy kick.
- Honey and light brown sugar - honey brings natural sweetness to this cookie (as well as preserves it to last longer) and light brown sugar subtle caramel notes. All is then melted with salted butter and milk, bringing out caramel flavour and honey sweetness. Spices are then mixed with lukewarm honey mixture to intensify cookies' spicy aroma.
- Yeast - yes, yeast. Don’t worry though, there is no kneading needed and preparation is exactly the same as for any other cookie dough (ingredients need to be mixed until cookie dough is formed - the shorter the better). Why yeast? Yeast brings crisp edges to this cookie and lovely soft (and not powdery) cookie centre.
- Small amount of baking soda - soda is used in this recipe to offset any sourness that may come when adding yeast.
- Rye flour - brings lovely texture and taste to these cookies. Go an extra mile and use this type of flour here. If you can’t get it, the recipe will also work using AP flour only.
- Overnight rest - cookie dough should rest for anything between 12-24 hours to infuse spices and for yeast to aerate the dough.
- Stress-free shaping - cookie dough is easy to roll out and cut into shapes. Bring the dough to room temperature, use some flour for dusting. The dough will be easy to work with.
- Play around with the texture - thanks to the addition of yeast you can easily transform this gingerbread men cookie recipe into soft gingerbread cookies. Add 1 egg yolk (this dough can take up to 2 egg yolks) to cookie dough and then proceed as in the recipe (extending baking time by 1-2 minutes, and rolling out the dough 0.3cm thin). As a result you will get softer, puffier gingerbread.
Preparation here is quick. Salted butter, milk, honey and sugar are cooked until melted. The mixture, when lukewarm, is mixed with spices, yeast and baking soda. For a good bake here wait for spiced honey mixture to cool to room temperature. As a last step, sifted all purpose and rye flours, together with salt, are added. Few swift moves will bring the dough together. No need to wait for dough rise - divide it in two parts and refrigerate overnight. Roll out and shape cookies when ready. No need to wait for cookies to rise (treat as any other, non-yeasted, cookie dough). Bake for 9-11 minutes.
Gingerbread Men Recipe
Yield: 30 cookies
Time: 15min prep + overnight rest + 15min prep + 9-11min baking time
Tin: large baking tray and cookie cutters
- 115g salted butter
- 170g good honey
- 120g light brown sugar
- 75ml full-fat milk
- 1 tsp (3g) instant active dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 and 1/2 tsps ground ginger
- 2 tsps ground cloves
- 2 tsps ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (you can replace with allspice if you can’t get ground cardamom)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 300g all purpose flour
- 100g rye flour
- 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1. Prepare spiced honey mixture: Place butter, honey, brown sugar, milk into a pot. Melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is combined, bring to boil and immediately take off the heat. Cool the mixture until lukewarm (30-38C). Place all the spices in your main mixing bowl. Add honey mixture (lukewarm) to spices, baking soda and instant yeast. Stir until combined and cool to room temperature (21C) before proceeding to Step 2.
2. Combine: Sift all purpose flour, rye flour, salt and add to spiced honey mixture. By hand (or using spoon), with few swift moves combine the dough. Divide the gingerbread dough into two equal parts, flatten to form disc shapes, wrap in cling film or store in zip bags. Refrigerate overnight.
3. Bake: Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Lightly dust the work surface with flour, roll out 0.3cm thin, cut cookie shapes. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges are lightly golden and crisp and middle still soft. When baked, take out from the oven and let cookies cool on the baking tray for 10-15 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.