I'm not much of a baker from January-November, but come December, I'm all over it.
Last year I blogged my recipes for mince pies and Christmas pudding, and now here's my recipe for Christmas gingerbread cookies. And when I say "my recipe for Christmas gingerbread cookies", I of course mean "Nigella's recipe for Christmas gingerbread cookies.
300g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps freshly ground black pepper
(1 tsp ground ginger - Nigella doesn't have this, but I reckon it gives them a bit more kick)
Then slowly add
100g soft unsalted butter
100g soft dark sugar
2 large eggs, beaten with 4 tbsp runny honey
Make two fat discs of pastry, and wrap one in gladwrap and stick it in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Dust a work surface with flour, and roll out your first disc of pastry to about 5mm thickness, and cut them using cookie-cutters (Nigella and I use snowflakes, but you could do stars or trees or angels or whatever).
Repeat with the second disc of dough, rolling all the leftover bits together until you've used up every scrap.
(if you want to turn these cookies into hangable decorations, this is a good time to use an icing nozzle to cut a little hole at the top of each biscuit)
Arrange your cookies on lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes. It's a bit tricky to tell when they're done, you might need to give them a bit of a poke. Just watch carefully because they go from being "done" to "burnt" very quickly. Transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Prepare your royal icing - I buy the instant stuff from a cake-decorating shop, because it's easier than making it from scratch, and also more hygienic what with egg-whites and all. You can colour it if you like, but I leave mine white. Make sure you don't make it up too thick, otherwise it'll be hard to get on the biscuits.
Ice your cookies! I use an icing nozzle to trace designs, and add a few silver cachous (you know those little balls, yeah, I didn't know they had a name either), but you could completely blanket each decoration in white if you wanted, or add all sorts of other edible sparkles and fancy bits.
And that's it! Either nom them as they are, or thread a bit of ribbon if you made a hole and hang them on your tree.
Later this month I shall blog my tips for brining and roasting a forreals Christmas Turkey, and recipes for bread sauce and stuffing. NOMMM.