For years and years, I always resorted to IKEA for my gingerbread biscuits–not out of laziness, but simply because my kids loved them best. From the onset of December, the fragrance of ginger took up residence throughout the house, and remained long after Christmas was over. This is because we also use gingerbread biscuits to decorate our tree. This went on up until last year. That’s when Aunt Silva joined our “bake-off” (as she calls it), and brought her own home-made dough. What my kids did when they took their first bite of a freshly-baked, still-hot (and also pretty hard) gingerbread biscuit, I hadn’t seen in a long time. They stuffed themselves silly, and I knew right then that store-bought dough would never set foot in this house again. This year, I was afraid of seeing disappointment in my kids’ eyes from not being able to create the perfect gingerbread biscuit like Aunt Silva, so I made sure to watch her closely as she worked her magic. She has countless what she calls her “secret tweaks,” and because this year I have to store those gingerbread biscuits out of reach of those eager mouths so that there would be something left with which to decorate the tree, I asked my aunt for her blessing to share her recipe. Thankfully, she agreed! So, I wish you good luck in hiding these incomparably delicious, strict-child-taste-bud-approved treats!
- Mix all of the dry ingredients and sift into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, and lovingly combine into a soft dough with your hands. Leave the kitchen mixer in the cabinet this time!
- The finished dough is soft and springy, not unlike flexible plasticine. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the rested dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 0.4 cm, cut shapes from the dough with cookie cutters, and arrange on the cookie sheet.
- In a small bowl, mix an egg yolk with one tablespoon of tap water with a fork. Brush the tops of the gingerbread biscuits with the beaten egg yolk to give them a beautiful sheen during baking.
- Bake 8–10 minutes. Let cool before decorating with icing.
AND NOW FOR THE ICING.
- Mix sugar with egg whites and lemon juice, and beat with a whisk until the icing is thick, does not drip from a spoon, and is also entirely smooth so that it doesn’t plug the icing tip.
- A good icing bag is the foundation of successful icing. Fill a designated icing bag, or you can also use a durable plastic bag.
- Cut off the corner and let your imagination run wild in decorating your gingerbread biscuits. The icing should pull and should actually be more or less laid onto the biscuit.
- Let dry, arrange into boxes, and let rest for 3 weeks in a cool and moist environment, out of reach of your offspring!