Gingerbread baking is an activity we all truly look forward to in our house. Every family needs a good gingerbread recipe, and if you ask me, this is the very best. Passed down along generations of Swedish grandmothers to mothers to daughters and granddaughters, until it finally ended up with my friend, who shared it with me.
It is enough to make a gingerbread house and a good batch of biscuits. (And this is only half the quantity of the original recipe, which said: ‘makes one giant gingerbread house or ca 500 biscuits’!). I find that using the amounts below, it makes plenty to keep you going for a few batches. But by all means double the quantities, because the dough freezes well, so you can keep some at hand at all times during the holiday season. And I’ll share a little hack below to make it even easier to whip some up in no time!
The best Swedish gingerbread
- 150 ml golden syrup
- 425 g brown or white sugar
- 150 ml boiling water
- 265 g butter, melted
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 1 kg plain flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp mixed spice
(Or use any combination of cinnamon, cloves, ginger etc. that you like. I prefer the biscuits Dutch style, so not too heavy on the ginger, but by all means add your own signature blend of spices, up to two tablespoons altogether).
Mix the sugar, syrup and boiling water until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the melted butter.
In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, then add wet to dry and mix until fully combined.
Next, divide the dough into a few portions and allow it to rest in a cool place, at least overnight. Letting the dough rest makes it a bit more stretchy and easier to roll out thin. This recipe allows for superthin crispy gingerbread as well as more chewy depending on thin you roll it out and how long you bake it for.
When you are ready to make the biscuits, preheat the oven at 200ºC. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible and cut into shapes (ours are usually 2-3 mm). Bake for 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness) on a parchment lined tray, until the biscuits begin to darken and smell delicious.
For a gingerbread house, it’s easiest to roll the dough out onto the parchment straight away and cut it either before or immediately after baking. To assemble a house, melt 200g sugar in a non stick frying pan and resist the urge to stir. Dip the edges into the melted sugar and push the pieces together until they stick (it shouldn’t take long). The sugar is hot (and I mean HOT!) so watch out!
Use your favourite icing to decorate. Ours is egg whites, a little lemon juice and as much icing sugar as it needs to get thick enough to pipe.
Gingerbread men freezer hack
I always store part of the dough in the freezer, rolled in a log, to make a quick batch of gingerbread men in case of an emergency. You know, handmade hostess present, unexpected playdates… There is a way to make the cookies quickly, without waiting for it all to defrost. Just make sure the diameter (cross section) of the log is big enough for your cutter. While your oven is preheating, slice the dough thinly and cut out your men. Transfer onto a lined baking sheet. By the time you have cut a few men this way, the little remnants of dough will be soft enough to roll out too. This way you can quickly use up all the bits. For maximum effect, spruce them up by adding an almond and folding their arms over to make it seem like they’re holding a nut. Use a toothpick to make eyes and a little mouth and bake as normal. That’s it! No one will ever suspect you made those in fifteen minutes only!
ps. If you are looking for a vegan gingerbread recipe try Bree’s (or use her pattern pieces for the house!), or make twisted candy cane cookies if gingerbread isn’t your cup of tea!