Once upon a time, a mother and a daughter attempted to bake a beautiful gingerbread family.
This story doesn’t have a typical happy ending.
The final product looks like those hilarious fails on pinterest: nailed it!
The gluten-free gingerbread family is born
The journey to the final batch of cookies has many of the ingredients of a fairytale. I give you a land far far away. We baked these cookies in the remote town of Broederstroom, North West province. Enter a charming leading lady and her beloved sidekick: Rachel and her baking partner-in-crime Mommy! A seemingly impossible set of circumstances to overcome, with a touch of magic. Do you believe we can make the perfect gingerbread family using gluten-free ingredients?
What you need to make your gingerbread family:
2 C gluten-free flour (normal cake flour will also work if you don’t need to be gluten-free)
1 t baking powder
½ t bicarbonate of soda
1 t cinnamon
2 t ground ginger
1 egg or flax egg
125 g room temperature butter
¼ C golden syrup
½ C brown sugar
1 C icing sugar
Sweets to decorate
DAY 1: How to make the dough
- Help your play expert cream the butter and brown sugar in a bowl
- Add golden syrup and egg and play expert can mix until just combined
- Grab another bowl and help your play expert mix together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger
- Carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
- Everybody, use your hands to mix everything together and make a biscuit dough – don’t forget to do a taste test!
- Place the dough in the fridge overnight, covered with some plastic wrap – this is when the magic happens!
DAY 2: Baking your gingerbread family
The magic should have done its wonders by 5AM the next morning: it is time to bake NOW!
- Preheat oven to 170 C
- Prepare 2 baking trays with baking paper
- Place some flour on a clean surface, ideally at your play expert’s height
- Grab your rolling pin and gingerbread cookie cutters
- Grab the dough from the fridge and put it on the floured surface
- Everybody, knead!
- Help your play expert roll the dough to about 5mm thickness
- Use cookie cutters to make your gingerbread family
- Carefully place gingerbread people onto baking trays (this is your job grown-ups!)
- Once you have no dough left and your baking trays are covered in gingerbread people, place trays in oven and bake for 15 minutes (another job for big people only)
- Remove from oven and leave to cool on trays for 5 minutes
- Then move to cooling racks and wait to cool completely
Decorating your gingerbread family
- Mix some icing sugar and water to make a thick paste
- Grab whatever sweets you have lying around to decorate your family
- Use the paste to stick on eyes, mouths, buttons, whatever!
- Show off and share your family of gingerbread people
A happy ending?
Baking with Rach requires a little pinch of silliness and a whole lot of messy fun. Our final cookies are delicious and gluten-free but honestly, our gingerbread family looks a bit scary to me. I don’t want the happy endings in my family to look like perfectly-baked cookies. That’s not what we look like. Perhaps it is time to redefine happily-ever-after. It isn’t easy. Baking these cookies took DAYS to complete, thanks to clumsy co-ordination and short-attention spans. It isn’t perfect. My kitchen looked like a cookie monster threw up.
I propose something new: not a happy ending, but happy moments! Making our gingerbread family was the most fun we have had in the kitchen in ages. And like all good fairytales, we learnt a thing or two. My lesson was to let go of my perfectionism. Nothing is picture perfect. And Rach has proudly shared her gingerbread family with whoever comes to visit. This is a child who does not share baked goodies under normal circumstances with anyone.
So why not bake your own gingerbread family? Who cares if you eat all the cookie dough and never even bake them? Who cares if they look weird and wonderful? Just have fun. Be together in the moment. Make a yummy mess. Create happiness.