If you’re reading this just after I posted it, I know what you might be thinking. She’s posting a cookie recipe right after Christmas?! Aren’t bloggers supposed to do these things before the holidays? Well yeah, they probably are. But I do have a good excuse…
I was planning to make these a while ago and share the recipe in time for all those folks who like to make gingerbread cookies before Christmas. Instead I’ve spent the past few weeks doing, well, as little as possible.
Turns out I’m rather low in iron. And considering my energy levels barely get above half-full as it is, the low iron pretty much had me ruined.
Luckily, after having a jab in the arse (an iron injection, I mean) I slowly started to feel slightly more human again just before Christmas, and despite taking what felt like months (but was actually only a week or two) to make the dough, roll and bake the cookies, decorate them and get some photos taken and edited, I can finally share the recipe.
So enough about all that let’s talk about these cookies.
Unlike a lot of gluten free cookies, these are very sturdy and easy to decorate – despite the lack of gluten they don’t crumble. Just be aware that if you use different gluten free flour than I do, your results may vary. A blend that is mostly starch will make the cookies softer and more likely to break as you decorate.
I used Sweetapolita’s royal icing recipe to decorate these little gingerbread people. Don’t do what I did and thin it down too much, coz it won’t be quite as pretty. A couple of the colours got a little blobby and weird, but hey, at least the cookies got made. And I’m ok with not being perfect.
Narrator: Natalie was lying. She is never ok with anything not being perfect.
I decided to go with a pastel colour scheme instead of the usual festive colours, and I had a super pretty pastel sprinkle medley from Kiwicakes that I was planning to use to decorate the cookies. But you know, I put them in a drawer and forgot about them until after I had decorated. I blame the low iron. But I made the most of them and used them in the photos anyway.
Funnily enough, I use molasses in this recipe, and do you know what molasses contains? Iron, that’s what. I’m not going to claim that makes these a health food because I’m sure the amount in different kinds of molasses varies, but it is an interesting piece of information for the day.
If you don’t happen to have molasses on hand, you can use golden syrup instead, it gives the cookies a slightly lighter colour and flavour but they’ll taste just as good.
You can also adjust the level of spiciness in these cookies to suit your own tastes, I happen to be a big fan of ginger (might be genetic, since I have red hair?) so I like to put plenty in, but if you like things a little mellower then you can always reduce the ginger.
Because the gluten free gingerbread cookie dough is quite soft, you do need to chill it before you bake it. There’s no gluten that needs ‘relaxing’ though, so you can roll the dough out straight after making it, and then chill it just until it’s firm – which makes cutting out the shapes and transferring them to your waiting baking tray infinitely easier. No warped and creepy gingerbread people here, please-and-thank-you. Then the shapes are chilled again to make sure they don’t spread too much in the oven. It sounds like a lot of faffing about, but once you get a system going, it’s really very straightforward.
I like to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, as it means it doesn’t need to be dusted with more flour, which can make the cookies dry. You can read Sweetapolita’s guide to making the perfect sugar cookie, I use all her tips for rolling the dough, including using dowels to make sure the dough is rolled out to an even thickness. It’s genius, I tell you.
I’ve had these ‘bitten’ gingerbread people cutters for years now, I’m 99% sure they were Wilton brand but I can’t seem to find them anywhere online now. Like they’ve completely vanished off the face of the earth. If you want this look though, you can simply use your favourite gingerbread person cutters and then use a scalloped cutter to cut out a ‘bite’ from the top.
There’s also no rule that gingerbread cookies are only for the holiday season.
And if there was a rule that said that, I would totally break it. Any time of year is a good time for year for spicy, gingery cookies.
625g gluten free flour
2 & 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 & 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
200g butter, at room temperature
200g brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100g molasses OR 130g golden syrup
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, xanthan gum and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine well.
Place the butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and molasses or golden syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl, if you’re using an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed just until well combined and creamy. Beat in the egg and egg yolk.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients. You may need to stir in the last bit by hand. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead briefly until the dough holds together. Split the dough in half. (If making the dough in advance, then pat each ball of dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Let come to room temperature before rolling.)
Roll out each half between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, until about 5mm thick. (See post for tips). Chill until firm.
Cut out shapes using your favourite cookie cutters. Arrange them one inch-ish apart on baking paper lined baking trays. If you have the time, put the trays in the fridge for 15-20 minutes for the dough to firm up again before baking. This helps reduce spreading.
Bake for 8 – 12 minutes or until very lightly golden on the bottom. The exact baking time will depend on the size and shape of your cookies, so keep an eye on them. Cool for 5 minutes on the trays, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate as desired, and once dry store in an airtight container. They will keep well for several weeks.
Gluten Free Flours I Used: 330g tapioca starch, 250g brown rice flour, 45g potato starch. Be aware that if you use different gluten free flour than I did, your results may vary.
If decorating with royal icing, make sure the icing/confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder you use are gluten free. Same deal if you’re using a packaged royal icing mix. Gluten is sneaky. Don’t let it win.
Hope you all have a fabulous New Year!