Happy Hallows Eve! This is officially my first post on my food blog. Exciting. But bear with me, I’m sure I’ll get better at this as I go along. For the past year or so I’ve been asked by numerous friends that I should probably start a food blog as I’m rather meanly posting pictures of what I cook in a Facebook album, but never really follow it up with techniques or methods. So here we go. Let’s start with this picture…
Last Christmas, back in my wonderful hometown of Hong Kong, Santa bought me this: a Gingerdead Man cookie cutter. It’s cuts the shape of the regular ginger bread person, but also has a skeletal extrusion for you to emboss the skeleton into the dough and thus bake and fill with royal icing. For those of you who know me well, this is a fantastic gift! It’s a little bit bakey and a little bit gothy…*fist pump!*
This Halloween I dressed as a Japanese School Girl Mauled by Zombies. It went down a treat. As did my trays of Ginger Dead Men. I based this on the Humming Bird Bakery recipe for these, I’ve only added more spice. This is a book that I absolutely recommend for any baker, I’ve followed and modified a lot of recipes in my kitchen experiments and this book always produces light balanced bakes. There are a lot of different ginger bread recipes out there, this particular one is of the more airy and slightly chewy German variety compared to the crumbly cookie commercial versions you can buy. It’s also lovely and spiced. Go forth and bake! Makes approx. 24 cookies, depending on your cookie cutter.
400 g 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 (I went with 1/2 tsp grated)
1/2 tsp salt
180 g room temp butter, cubed
125 g soft dark sugar - muscovado good
125 g black treacle
Whack your butter and sugar in a mixer or bowl. Mix until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, mix all your dry ingredients ingredients (spices, salt, flour, raising agent). Increase mixing speed of butter and sugar then beat in the egg and treacle – use your spatular and scrape the sides and mix thoroughly. On a low mixing speed now, add in your flour mixture one tablespoon at a time until and scrape the side with that spatular. Mix – scrape – mix – scrape. Finished dough! Divide into 3, wrap in cling film and bung it in the fridge. The book says it’ll taste better if you store overnight. I didn’t do this, but I let it rest for 4 hours…that’ll do…
When ready to roll, heat the oven to 170°C get a dough out and rest ’em for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare baking trays. Flour rolling pin and roll on a floured sheet of parchment paper, I find this easier to transfer my cut cookie shapes onto the prepared baking trays. Roll the dough out to 4mm. I placed a chopstick either side of my rolling pin so I was rolling the dough all nice and uniformed…clever hey? Stamp those shapes out! Bake for 10-15 mins. Cool slightly on the trays before transfering onto cooling rack.
Ready to do the icing? This was the only part of the recipe I didn’t follow as I was running a bit late and didn’t want to make it too stiff from the egg white as I wanted the icing to flow into the skeleton crevice. I simply eyeballed the icing sugar, lemon and water to the right dribbly consistency. But here are the actual quantities should you want them.
1 egg white
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
310 g icing sugar, sifted
food colouring, optional
Beat that egg white with the lemon juice, gradually add the icing sugar. Mix well and you should get stiff peaks. If it’s too runny add more sugar. Add colouring if you want. Get it in your piping bag. Decorate and make pretty.
There you go. First post under the belt. Happy Halloween!