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Make your own ginger bread festive ornaments this year and fill the wonderful aroma of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and of course ginger to your home. Ice them with Royal icing to create an extra touch of the festive season.
200g dark brown sugar
140g golden syrup
Zest of 1 lemon or orange
4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
500g plain flour
For the Royal icing:
250g icing sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp water
1 medium lightly beaten egg white
Natural coloured cotton or jute string
Natural colour card board
Combine the brown sugar, golden syrup, butter, citrus zest and spices into a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir while the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a shimmer. Bring to bubbling point then take the pan off the heat.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir through, this will froth and bubble. Set the mixture aside to sit and cool down for 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl sift the flour and add the salt, pour in the sugar mixture and gently stir to combine. Once the sticky mixture comes together into a dough. scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it a quick knead.
Wrap the dough in a reusable plastic lunch bag or a bees wax wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hr to set and to allow for the flavours of the spices to come out. N.B:The dough can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge for a few days.
Preheat the oven to 180°, line two large cookie baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Take the dough out of the fridge and slice it into quarters, place 3 quarters back in the fridge so you work with one at a time.
At a large surface in your home, lay a large piece of baking paper out. Place the dough on top of the paper and place another layer on top of the dough so its sandwiched between the paper. This prevents the dough from sticking to the surface and the rolling pin.
Roll out the dough to be est 5mm thick.
Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and place the sheet back in the freezer on a tray for a couple of minutes to cool it down. If you're making these on a hot day keep putting the dough back in the freezer - this will make it much easier to work with,and help to keep the cookies from expanding out of shape when cooking.
Take the tray back out of the freezer and remove the excess dough around the cut out edges, gently lift up each cookie with a spatula onto the baking tray. Allow room between each cookie for expanding when baked. Place in the oven to cook for 6-7 minutes or until they start to brown around the edges. Don’t worry if they brown too much; you want them to be really hard, in order to hang on the tree without cracking.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow too cool on a cooling rack. Using a Wooden skewer gently poke a hole est 1cm from the top edge all the way through while they are still hot.
Repeat the process for the remainder of the dough pieces.
Once the Cookies are completely cooled down, cut out pieces of natural coloured cardboard that are in the same shape as the cookie cutter, use the cookie cutter as a template. Because we live in a humid climate, the cookies draw in moisture in the air and can crack easily when hung on the tree, the cardboard helps to strengthen and prevent the cookies from breaking.
To make the Royal icing, combine all the ingredients into a small mixing bowl; you're looking for a thick style of icing which forms peaks rather than a drizzle style icing. If the icing is too thick, add 1/2 tsp of water at a time to the mixture.
Add 2-3 tbsp of icing mixture at a time to a piping bag with a small nozzle attached, twist the top end of the bag to take out any air pockets. Cover the remaining icing in the bowl. It is easier to pipe with a small amount in the piping bag.
Ice roughly on the back side of the cookies and press the card board cut outs on to the cookie to stick them together. Flip them over and ice your design on the top side of the cookie. Allow them to sit to completely set for around 2-3 hrs.
Thread a piece of string roughly 30cm long through the hole and tie a knot in the middle. Leave the two strings long for attaching in a blow to the tree.
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