This is a Hallowe’en bake where, fortunately for me, having the icing skills of a pre-schooler is no disadvantage, so if you actually have a four (five, six, seven, eight or thereabouts) year old, you’re ahead on points.
It’s a fun and safe recipe to make with youngsters, hot oven trays apart, obviously. The gingerbread is a very forgiving dough, so it really doesn’t matter too much if your child mauls it during rolling and cutting. Happily, it tastes good enough to please all the family, while allowing for lots of yummy mummy jokes.
I’m publishing it a day earlier than usual for those who may need to buy ingredients or who are already being importuned by their children to bake for Hallowe’en (Emily).
I also made some ghosts, using Nigella Lawson’s butter cookie recipe and a cutter widely available online. You can ice these too for the full Caspar effect, but as I was making them as a present for health workers at our local hospital rather than for kids, I thought I’d better be circumspect about the sugar.
350g plain flour
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
2-3 tspn ground ginger, to taste
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
175g light muscovado sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg, beaten
For the icing:
300g icing sugar
Approx 45 ml lemon juice or water
+ currants for eyes (or buy ready-made googly eyes as on the ghosts)
Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C,Gas Mark 5. Grease three baking trays.
Sift the flour, bicarb and spices into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour mixture until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar.
Beat the egg with the golden syrup and add to the bowl. Mix to form a smooth dough then get your hands in there and knead it lightly. Don’t be tempted to add more liquid, it will come together eventually.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll out half of the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out gingerbread men, then repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling where necessary.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until they’ve darkened slightly in colour, then remove gently with a spatula (they’ll still be a bit bendy) and leave to harden and cool on a wire rack.
Once cool, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice or water and beat well until smooth. It needs to be quite thick to stay put but loose enough to pipe. Place newspaper or something else disposable or easily cleanable under the racks of gingerbread.
Scoop the icing into a piping bag or a plastic bag with a small corner snipped off, and zig-zag it over the gingerbread men, so it looks like unravelling bandages. Add currants for eyes (some may of course only have one visible eye if the head is heavily wrapped in icing or you mummified a Cyclops) and allow to set before eating. It’ll probably take that long to clean the kitchen. Happy Hallowe’en!