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Gingerbread men

These are a lot of fun to decorate individually. Leave the dough to rest overnight. It makes the cookies better the next day.

  • Total time: Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 400g plain flour
    3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    2 tsp ground ginger
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground allspice
    1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    1/2 tsp salt
    180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    125g soft dark brown sugar, or dark muscovado sugar
    1 egg
    125g black treacle.

    Royal Icing
    1 egg white
    1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    310g icing sugar, sifted
    food colouring, optional

    Gingerbread biscuit cutters
    a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper

Method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Put the butter and sugars in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and cream on slow speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat in the egg and treacle, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. Turn the mixer back down to slow speed and slowly add the flour mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time, stoping often to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Once an even dough has formed, take it out of the mixer, divide into 3 and wrap each piece in clingfilm. Leave to rest overnight in the fridge.
  3. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 170*C (325*F) Gas 3. Take the dough out of the fridge and leave to soften for about 10 minutes. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4 mm with a rolling pin. Cut out shapes with the biscuit cutters. Arrange the cookies on the prepared trays and bake in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes. Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. For the royal icing: Beat the egg white and lemon juice together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk). Gradually start adding the icing sugar, mixing well after each addition to ensure all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until you get stiff peaks. If the icing is too runny, add a little more sugar. Stir in a couple of drops of food colouring, if using, and decorate the cookies.

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