I have a confession. I only bake cookies as an excuse to use cookie cutters. I’ve lost track of how many cookie cutters I have but there are definitely a few favourites. There’s a nicely detailed Eiffel Tower that was picked up in Melbourne. The gingerdead men cutters. And that big reindeer one from Ikea.
But my latest purchase, a pair of cookie cutter stamps (that say crunch and munch), had me dancing in Target (I was waving them around like a championship trophy). These are from the Jamie Oliver collection and I was mighty surprised that they actually work. Which I know sounds silly, but more often than not the impressions fade away when baked. With these you can read the words without squinting. Plus they’re round, which comes in handy when gifting at this time of year (broken cookie limbs aren’t very merry at all).
So here’s my go-to gingerbread cookie recipe, complete with my favourite spice mix. It’s mild, warming and perfect for gingerbread haters (but it still has ginger in it). I believe any social obligation to eat food we should support wholeheartedly, so may I suggest you supplement a hamper or two with this easy peasy cookie. They’re ridiculously easy to make. It’s basically boil sugar and butter, add to flour and bicarb plus an egg. An easier cookie to make would be hard to find.
I like this particular combination of spices, but obviously mix and match or even take out the ground ginger. Use good quality butter as you’ll be able to taste it. For the decor I’m really lazy – I like to dredge the edges with coloured sugar or pipe in some instant royal icing. Do not over bake – check the biscuits at the 10 minute mark, if the edges are firm, it’s time to take them out.
Makes about 20 cookies, depending on the size of your cool cookie cutter
450 g plain flour
2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
100 g golden syrup
115 g brown sugar
115 g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
flour, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
In a bowl, combine the flour, bicarb, salt and spices.
Heat the golden syrup, sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When its melted, take off the heat and pour onto the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla extract and beaten egg. Mix together until it forms a dough, it will firm as it cools.
Place a tea towel on your workspace, then a sheet of baking paper over it (the tea towel stops the paper slipping when rolling out the dough). Pat down half the cookie dough followed by another sheet of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between the sheets of paper until it’s 5mm thick. (If you want the impressions of the dough to be really distinct, at this point you can freeze the dough for 15 minutes.) Do the same with the other half of the dough.
Take the top sheet of paper off and dust the dough with flour. Flip the dough and bottom sheet over so the floured side is now face down. Remove the now top sheet of baking paper. Lightly flour the dough and the cookie stamp. With a pastry brush, brush off any excess flour from the stamp. Stamp and cut out the cookies. Flour and brush off the stamp frequently to get really distinct impressions. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, though you’ll want to check the biscuits regularly from the 10 minute mark. If the edges are firm, it’s time to take them out.
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