I was standing in line for a coffee on Saturday holding Essie’s hand. A lovely, soft spoken, elderly lady came up to me and was commenting on Essie’s beautiful blonde curls and how beautiful children are. She told me not to wish away these years as they go too quickly. Her children had grown up and she had longed for grandchildren. The grandchildren arrived and have now grown up and now she is longing for great-grandchildren. I wanted to bottle her up, take her home and adopt her!
Life is so busy for parents, and grandparents these days, and it was beautiful to be reminded just how precious children are and how these years will slip by before I know it if I don’t pay attention. Sometimes I get focused on how many things are on my to do list and forget to just enjoy my children. Outings and activities are always special but my favourite thing is chatting to them once they are tucked up in bed. That is the time when they love to chat and chat and chat … I will treasure these little conversations and hope I can remember some of the clever, creative, funny little things they share.
Today Essie was home from preschool so building plans were put aside until rest time. After we dropped Levi and Tilly at school we went for a latte and a couple of babycinos. We bumped into another preschool mum having a little coffee outing with her boy and all he wanted was a gingerbread man but there was none. Essie started thinking how she too would like a gingerbread man so we went home and made a batch.
I am not keen on the thick gingerbread that is soft and dry but prefer a thin gingerbread that gives a little crunch. This recipe is the result of trial and error and I think it is perfected now. The cooler weather at the moment is perfect for working with this dough. Be sure to have the butter out for long enough for it to be soft.
It is a long wait for the littlies while the butter softens, the ingredients get measured, the dough gets mixed and then rested in the fridge. So you could plan for a gingerbread men making session and make up the dough the day before, store in the fridge and pull it out a good half an hour before you are ready to roll and cut. An activity ready for another day. Even this morning I only used half the dough and wrapped up the remainder to make some more later in the week. The dough can be frozen for several months too.
With cut out biscuits I use the Glad Go-Betweens and roll the dough between 2 sheets. This rules out the need for extra flour and makes less mess. Once the men are cut out then use a very thin lifter to lift them and place them on the baking trays. A good wide fish lifter prevents loosing any limbs when transferring.
As far as Essie was concerned, icing was the best bit. I just use icing sugar and hot water which isn’t the ideal icing to draw with but it is quick and the result is still fun. I will have to work on perfecting icing another day. As far as Elliott was concerned, the eating was the best bit!
I should probably warn you that the following image might be disturbing. Plenty of tears were shed from both kids but then they ate the broken limbs and cheered up pretty quickly.
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g brown sugar
140g golden syrup
1 egg yolk
600g plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
In a mixmaster beat the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and treacle together until creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for another couple of minutes. Sift in the dry ingredients in a couple of batches and mix to combine. Wrap in plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for half an hour.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line 2 trays with baking paper.
Roll half the dough out to 5mm thickness in between 2 sheets of Glad Go-Betweens or similar. Peel off the top sheet. Cut out the gingerbread men with a cutter and use a lifter to carefully transfer the men to the prepared baking trays. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool on the tray then decorate. Repeat with remaining dough or store in the fridge or freezer for another day.