6 gingerbread recipes for magical gifts and decorations

These gingerbread recipes transform traditional Christmas cookies into magical gifts and decorations.

William Meppem

Basic gingerbread cookie dough

MAKES 1 QUANTITY

125g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
90g brown sugar
230g golden syrup
375g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
2 tsp ground ginger

1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the syrup, flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and beat until a smooth dough forms. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Chocolate gingerbread cookie dough

MAKES 1 QUANTITY

125g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
90g brown sugar
230g golden syrup
350g plain flour, sifted
35g good-quality cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
2 tsp ground ginger

1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the syrup, flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and beat until a smooth dough forms. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Rolling, cutting, baking

See the recipes that follow for full instructions. With both basic and chocolate gingerbread you can use leftover dough to make more biscuits. If the dough feels too soft, simply chill in the fridge for a few more minutes before rolling. You can keep any leftover cookies in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

Gingerbread countdown calendar stars

William Meppem

MAKES 25 PLUS LEFTOVERS

1 x quantity basic gingerbread dough
240g icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white

1. Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 5mm thick. Refrigerate until firm. Using star-shaped cutters, cut 8 x 5.5cm stars, 8 x 6.5cm stars, 4 x 7.5cm stars and 5 x 9.5cm stars from the dough, rerolling it as necessary. Using the tip of a 6mm round nozzle, punch
a hole in the top of each star. Place on baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper and bake for 18-20 minutes or until dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely on trays.

2. To make the icing, place the sugar and egg white in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a 2mm round nozzle. Pipe the icing around the edges of the stars and number them 1-25 or as desired (see tip). Thread the stars on to lengths of ribbon for hanging.

TIP There’s enough gingerbread dough to make 40 cookies. Any cookies left over
can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.

Mixed gingerbread Christmas trees

William Meppem

MAKES 6

1 x quantity basic gingerbread dough
1 x quantity chocolate gingerbread dough

CHOCOLATE ICING

320g icing sugar, sifted
25g good-quality cocoa powder, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Roll out each dough between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 5mm thick. Refrigerate until firm. Using the templates (see box below), cut out 1 small tree, 1 medium tree and 1 large tree from each dough, rerolling it as necessary.

2. Using a 3cm cutter, cut out 6 stars from your preferred dough. Place the trees and stars on baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper and bake for 23-25 minutes or until dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely on the trays.

3. To make the icing, place the sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in enough boiling water (2-3 tablespoons) to make the mixture smooth and pliable. Place the icing in a piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle. Pipe the icing on to the edges of the trees (see tip) and assemble 3 matching sides together. Leave aside for 30 minutes or until set. Pipe the icing on top to attach the stars. Makes 6 trees.

TIP To ensure your edges are flush and straight, use a small serrated knife to trim them.

Your tree templates

Cut out 3 panels for each tree.
Small tree: 8cm-wide base; 17cm high.
Medium tree: 9cm-wide base; 22cm high.
Large tree: 10cm wide base; 29cm high.
Visit donnahay.com.au for printable templates

Gingerbread Christmas cookie garland

William Meppem

MAKES 2 X 32-COOKIE GARLANDS

1 x quantity basic gingerbread dough
1 x quantity chocolate gingerbread dough

1. Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Roll out each dough between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 5mm thick. Refrigerate until firm. Using various-shaped cookie cutters of your choice, cut out 5cm gingerbread men, Christmas tree, star and snowman shapes from each dough, rerolling it as necessary. Using the tip of a 6mm round nozzle, cut 2 holes in the centre of each shape. Place on baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper and bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden and dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely on the trays. Thread the shapes on to a length of ribbon and tie the ends.

Gingerbread wreaths

William Meppem

MAKES 2

1 x quantity basic gingerbread dough

1. Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 5mm thick. Refrigerate until firm. Using a 7cm gingerbread-man shaped cutter, cut out 22 men from the dough, rerolling it as necessary. Place in two rings, with alternate hands and feet overlapping, on 2 baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely on the trays. Thread a length of ribbon through the gingerbread men (as in the picture on page 60), leaving enough excess to hang the wreaths.

Gingerbread village centrepiece

William Meppem

MAKES 1

1 x quantity basic gingerbread dough
white sugar, for decorating

1. Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 5mm thick. Refrigerate until firm. Using the templates (see panel below), cut out 1 large house, 1 medium house and 3 small houses from the dough. Place the houses on 2 large lightly greased baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper and freeze for 15 minutes.

2. While the houses are freezing, reroll the dough and, using assorted snowflake cutters, cut out snowflakes with the excess dough. Place on a large lightly greased baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

3. Remove the houses from the freezer and, using lollypop sticks or a blunt knife, draw on rectangular windows. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely on the trays. Fill a tray (or bowl) with sugar and arrange the houses and snowflakes in the sugar (alternatively, you can suspend the snowflakes decoratively as desired).

Your house templates

Small house: 8cm wide; 12cm high (including 5cm roof).
Medium house: 6cm wide; 15.5cm high (including 3.5cm roof).
Large house: 10cm wide; 20cm high (including 6cm roof).
Visit donnahay.com.au for printable templates

Gingerbread buttons

William Meppem

MAKES 32

1 x quantity basic gingerbread dough

1. Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 5mm thick. Refrigerate until firm. Using a 5cm cookie cutter, cut out 32 rounds from the dough, rerolling it as necessary. Using a 3cm round cutter, make an indent on the border of each round. Using the tip of a 6mm round nozzle, cut 2 holes from the centre of each round. Place on 2 baking trays lined with nonstick baking paper and bake for 18-20 minutes or until dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely on the trays. Thread the cookies on to ribbon and use as decorations or napkin rings.

Recipes by Donna Hay

Visit donnahay.com.au for festive inspiration and more