Gingerbread Recipe - courtesy of Mary Berry. Makes one (10”) biscuit ring and approximately 21 biscuits of various sizes
- SK Professional Plain Flour: 525g (1lb 2 1/2oz)
- Bicarbonate of soda: 1.5tsp
- Ground ginger: 3tsp
- Unsalted butter: 150g (5 1/4oz), at room temperature
- Light Muscovado sugar: 263g (9oz)
- Golden syrup: 6tbsp
- Eggs: 188g (6 3/4oz), beaten
- Wooden or metal spoon
- Baking parchment paper
- Baking trays: 3
- Rolling Pin
- Round Cake Board 25cm (10”)
- Sharp knife or pizza wheel
- Round Cake Board 15cm (6")
- Star and Snowflake Cutters Various Sizes
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger together in a large bowl. Cube the butter and add it to the bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and dry ingredients together to form a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar and, when all combined, make a well in the centre of the mixture.
- Add the golden syrup and beaten eggs into the well you have created. Using a spoon, bring the dry ingredients into the centre of the bowl. Keep mixing gently until a dough is formed (you may have to use your hands towards the end).
- Cut out eight sheets of baking parchment the same width and height of your baking trays.
- Divide your dough into three flattened discs. Place one disc onto a piece of parchment paper and lay another piece of parchment on top. Roll out the dough between the sheets of parchment paper until it is about 5mm (1/4”) thick. If the parchment crinkles, just peel it off and lay it back on the dough. Repeat for the other discs of dough. Then refrigerate your sheets of dough on a baking sheet for one hour.
- Once chilled, remove the top sheet of parchment paper from one of your sheets of dough and take a 25cm (10”) round cake board. Gently place the board on top of the dough and, using a knife or pizza wheel cut, around it. Then take a 15cm (6”) round cake board and use it to remove the centre of the 25cm (10”) circle you have just made to form a ring. Gather together the offcuts and set them all to one side.
- Take the other two sheets of dough and your shape cutters and cut out the shapes for your wreath. I cut out eight 7.5cm (3”) stars, two 7.5cm (3”) snowflakes, two 6.5cm (2 1/2”) snowflakes, two 5cm (2”) snowflake, three 4cm (1 1/2”) stars and four 2.5cm (1”) stars. These are just a guide though – you can have fun with your shapes and even throw in other Christmassy characters like angels, Father Christmases and gingerbread men.
- Once you’ve cut out your biscuits, remove the excess dough and add it to your offcuts from cutting out your ring. Space your shapes out on the parchment paper to allow for some spreading in the oven, and chill for a further 30 minutes on the baking trays. Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F/Gas Mark 5).
- Roll out the leftover dough between your final sheets of baking parchment paper and chill as you did before. Once chilled you can use the dough to cut out additional shapes for extra treats or your remaining shapes if you haven’t cut out enough.
- Once your initial shapes are chilled, bake for 10–18 minutes (depending on the size of the biscuit), until they have turned a golden brown. As a guide, I baked my biscuit ring for 16 minutes and the bulk of the biscuits for 11 minutes. You’ll then need to bake the shapes you created from the leftover dough once they’ve chilled for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool on the trays for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container until you’re ready to decorate.
Top Tip: I only roll out biscuit dough twice otherwise you can end up with a tough biscuit. Therefore, try to cut out as many biscuits as possible each time you roll out.
- SK Professional Instant Mix Royal Icing: 350g
- SK Professional Paste Food Colours: Poppy and Holly/Ivy
- Sugarflair Satin Paste Food Colour: Gold
- Rainbow Dust Metallic Food Paints: Holly Green, Red and Light Gold
- Rainbow Dust Edible Glitter: White
- SK Professional Edible Food Colour Pen: Brown
Top Tip: When choosing a food colour, make sure you don’t pick one that contains glycerine as this will stop the icing from setting, oil or fat as this will affect the structure of the icing, or liquid colour as this will affect the consistency of the icing.
- Stand mixer or electric hand whisk
- Silicone paper piping bags: medium
- PME Writer Piping Nozzles: nos. 0, 1.5 and 3
- Scriber needle
- SK High-Quality Paintbrush: no.10
- Cling film
- Round Cake Board 25cm (10”)
- First make the royal icing by following the instructions on the packet. You want it to reach an ‘off peak’ consistency, which means that if you dip a palette knife into the icing, bring it out and turn it upside down the peak of the icing on the end of the palette knife droops slightly with gravity. If it’s too stiff then continue to beat until it’s the right consistency.
- Separate your icing into roughly three even portions. Cover each bowl securely with cling film so that your icing doesn’t dry out.
- Take the first bowl and add a little Poppy paste food colour at a time until the icing turns a Christmassy red. Cover the icing with cling film once you’re happy with the colour. This is very important, otherwise your icing will harden in your bowl and you won’t be able to use it. Note, colours tend to dry a little darker with royal icing so keep that in mind when deciding on your colour.
- Take the second bowl and add a little Holly/Ivy paste food colour at a time until the icing turns a Christmassy green. Cover your bowl with cling film and set aside.
- Take the third bowl and split this into two. Leave on bowl completely uncoloured, and colour the other bowl gold with your Gold paste food colour. Cover your bowls with cling film. You’re now ready to start decorating your biscuits.
For the 7.5cm (3”) and 4cm (1 1/2”) stars:
- Add a no. 1.5 nozzle to a piping bag and take your red, green or gold icing. Add a spoonful into your piping bag and pipe an outline around the edge of each star. Start at one of the points, press your nozzle down and apply pressure to the bag. Gently lift and, maintaining pressure on the bag, draw down to the next corner in one line. Stop applying pressure when you get to the corner and touch down your piping nozzle. Repeat for all lengths of the star shapes and then repeat for the other two colours. Allow the line icing to try for about five minutes. Keep the red and gold line icing for later on, so cover securely with cling film. Take what’s left in your bowls of red, green and gold, and slowly add some cooled, boiled water a little at time to create run out icing. You know you’ve reached the right consistency when you cut into the icing and it flows back together at the count of 10 seconds. Cover your bowls with cling film.
- Fill a piping bag with one of the colours and use it to fill the corresponding biscuits you’ve started decorating. Use your scribe tool to push the icing into the points of the stars. Work quickly as the icing will start to harden quite quickly and be careful not to overfill the shapes, otherwise the icing will run over the sides of the biscuits. Repeat for the other two colours.
- Allow to air dry for at least five hours (you need the icing to be hard to the touch), or place in the oven on its lowest setting for 30 minutes or until hard.
- Once hardened, take your corresponding Red, Holly Green and Light Gold metallic food paints and a no. 10 paintbrush and paint over the respective icing to give it a metallic sheen. Allow to dry for about an hour.
- Finally take your red and green stars and pipe on some pearls with the red and gold line icing you saved earlier. To pipe a pearl place your nozzle tip along the rim of the biscuit, facing the area you’ve filled and just shy of the outline. Keep the nozzle in the same place, apply pressure until a pearl is piped, stop pressure and lift away. If a little point forms in the icing as you lift away, pat down with a fine damp brush while the icing is still wet. I used a no. 3 nozzle to pipe the gold pearls and a no. 1.5 nozzle to pipe the red ones on my wreath. Allow to dry for a couple of hours, until hard.
For the 7.5cm (3”) and 6.5cm (2 1/2”) snowflakes:
- This is where you can get really creative! Use your brown edible food pen to draw your design on the snowflakes.
- Fit a piping bag with the no. 1.5 piping nozzle and fill it with two thirds of your white icing. Pipe over the lines and patterns you’ve drawn on the biscuits to create the snowflake effect. Do this in the same way you piped the star outlines. Allow to dry for at least two hours or until hard.
- Keep the piping bag covered after use as you’ll need it later.
For the 2.5cm (1”) star:
- Repeat the steps from decorating the snowflake, however use half the remaining white icing and add to a piping bag fitted with a no. 0 nozzle.
For the 5cm (2”) snowflake:
- Pipe an outline with the piping bag you used for the larger snowflakes. Create run out icing with the remaining white icing and fill each biscuit as you did with the stars. Allow to dry for at least five hours and keep the piping bag of line icing covered.
- Once completely dry, pipe a snowflake pattern on top of the hard white run out icing and sprinkle with your White edible glitter. Allow to dry for at least two hours or until hard.
When you have all your biscuits iced and ready, carefully attach your biscuit wreath to a 25cm (10”) cake board with some spare royal icing. Arrange your iced biscuits on top and securely attach with a little royal icing. Your biscuit wreath is now complete and ready to wow family and friends this Christmas!
Recipe and images from Jennifer Jackson at Honey Lane Bakery, Henley on Thames .