Smells like Christmas II: Gingerbread

Last year, I embarked on a mission to bake and build a gingerbread house. It was fun to put it together and it left my home with the sweet and mellow scent of spices for two whole weeks. Needless to say, we couldn’t bear to eat the gingerbread house and left the gingerbread house as a display piece over Christmas. We dumped it away on the Boxing Day.

This year, I wanted to build another gingerbread house and make it a yearly tradition. After some initial sketches of gingerbread houses, I ditched the plan because a) I want to eat the gingerbread, not just admire it, b) I want to be able to share the gingerbread with others (not just the photos) and c) I want to hang some edible decorations on our Christmas tree.

So J and I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon baking and decorating these gingerbread cookies for our families and friends. J had a good time unleashing his creativity when he made a gingerBatman, gingerMadman and neon pink santa amongst others. I play on the safe side when it comes to decorating.

It was a good day to stay in not just because of the rain; we later learnt of the train failures and 7 hr long disruption that plagued our North-South line on our public transportation system.

This baking project left our kitchen smelling of warm Christmas spices for the rest of the afternoon. A consolation to the two weeks of spices scent around the house. Curiously, I recently read this article on explaining  how cinnamon reactivates childhood memories of  Christmas. How true!

It’s barely a week to Christmas, I’m counting down to my favourite holiday! Are you?


Recipe: Gingerbread cookies

Makes 32 large ones

170g butter
170g caster sugar
70ml milk
200g golden syrup
480g plain flour
4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground all spices/cloves
1.5 tsp baking powder

Royal icing (enough to decorate 32 cookies)

30g of egg whites (from about 1 egg)
150g -180g icing sugar, sifted
food colouring, optional


  1. Melt butter in a small pan over low heat. Do not let the butter brown. When almost all the butter is melted, add in caster sugar, milk, golden syrup and stir to combine. Heat until mixture reaches 45 degrees celcius.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices. Stir in the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.
  3. Split the cookie dough into two and refrigerate the two discs wrapped in cling wrap until firm (for about an hour).
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Roll out gingerbread between two baking sheets to about  0.4cm thick. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes so the dough firms up a little before cutting it with your cookie cutter.
  5. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until slightly golden brown. Check your cookies as they bake and rotate the trays if necessary.
  6. Transfer the cookies to cool on a wire rack before piping with royal icing.

For the royal icing:

  1. Whisk together icing sugar with egg whites until glossy and stiff. Adjust the amount of icing sugar to achieve the right consistency for piping. When you lift your whisk, the royal icing should be able to hold its shape for a couple of seconds before falling back on the surface of the icing.
  2. Decorate your cookies with your royal icing immediately as royal icing dries and hardens when exposed to air. Cover your bowl with a moist clean towel when not in used.

About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
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