I admit it; Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. Some people break out in a cold sweat when the Christmas carols start playing (sometimes as early as September) but not this guy! I personally get giddy with excitement.
I can't remember a time when the Festive Season didn't send my happiness levels off the chart. I think it's got something to do with the fact that my Birthday is on 20 December.
I know what you're thinking. Yuck. People always assume that I hate having my birthday close to Christmas, but the truth is, I love it. I get to enjoy a 11 day string of joy, gift giving, great food and socialising with all my favourite people!
Of course as a self-confessed bake-o-holic, I love that the Festive Season really is just an extra excuse to bake up some fun and yummy treats for friends and family. As I've mentioned before, giving home made treats to my loved ones brings me a lot of happiness. One of my long-time Christmas traditions is baking Gingerbread Cookies. I started baking giant batches of this scrumptious spiced cookie around the age of 9 or 10 and remember one year boxing them up for the extended family as Christmas presents.
I don't know why I don't just make these cookies all year round, as they have got to be one of my favourites. I love any excuse to make them. I even made a couple of batches of this recipe last Easter, cut them out into bunnies, eggs and carrot shapes and iced them and no one was the wiser! Muahahaha.
Speaking of being a kitchen Ninja...A few years back I found some super cool Ninjabread Men cookie cutters - that's right, they are in the shape of Ninjas! I like to make half the batch with traditional Christmas shapes (stars, trees, bells, Gingerbread men, etc) and then I'll make some cool Ninja Bread Men as well for a bit of fun. You can buy Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters here
This recipe has been in my repertoire for many years. It's easy to make and yields up to 100 cookies, depending on the types of shapes you make. It also keeps really well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks if you wrap it tightly in cling wrap.
If you live in a warmer climate I would recommend chilling the dough for at least an hour before rolling.
1 cup butter or margarine, cut into cubes
1 cup sugar
1 cup of golden syrup
2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons of vinegar
5 cups of plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons of bicarb soda
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1. Preheat the oven to 190°c. Line 2 - 4 trays with baking paper.
2. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat, until just slightly bubbling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Once cooled, beat in the egg, grated ginger and vinegar, ensuring all ingredients are well combined.
4. Sift in the flour, bicarb soda and spices and mix well.
5. Turn the dough out on to a large piece of cling wrap and wrap well. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour, or until it feels slightly firm.
6. Remove from the fridge and on a well-floured surface, knead to a smooth consistency. I find it is easier to cut the dough into sections and work with one section at a time (returning the remaining dough to the fridge while I work).
7. Roll the dough out to 1cm thickness and cut out the shapes before placing on to tray. Try to work as fast as you can as the longer the dough is at room temperature the harder it will be to get from bench to tray without making a mess of it.
8. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Keep an eye on the first batch and adjust the cooking time depending on your oven.
9. Allow to cool slightly on the tray before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
10. Once fully cooled, decorate with icing or you can also leave them plain (aka naked), as I often prefer.