As Christmas approaches we’re including a series of Christmas Crafts in this blog. All the ideas will be suitable for parents and kids to share – a great way of having family fun as you prepare for the festive season ahead. So far we’ve looked at making Christmas decorations out of paper – an easy and economical way of spreading the cheer at Christmas. Cold nights round the fire are brought to life with some old-fashioned ways of making your Christmas a bit more traditional and a lot more family orientated.
Today we’re taking a look at making traditional gingerbread decorations – a great way of getting the kids involved in cooking. These decorations can be hung on the tree for a really traditional feel – everybody will be sure to love them. You may even find that these are so popular that you can help the kids make a few more batches to give as gifts – a set of six real gingerbread Christmas tree decorations will be a welcome gift for grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, to say nothing of friends and neighbours.
Here’s what you’ll need to make to make about 36 gingerbread biscuits:
- 3 eggs
- 1.5 kg flour
- 300g butter (cold and chopped into small cubes)
- 525g dark brown sugar
- 160g golden syrup
- 2 heaped tablespoons of ground ginger
- Writing Icing kit from your local supermarket
Gather round the kitchen table with the kids and let them take turns adding ingredients, mixing in, rolling and cutting. It doesn’t matter if it takes ages – this is all about having fun and the more time you spend having fun, the better.
- First of all preheat your oven to gas mark 5 or 190C/375F.
- Get a large mixing bowl and mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, ginger) together well – get each child to have a turn mixing and let them make a wish as they mix.
- Make sure everybody can reach the bowl and then all dive in and rub in the butter with your fingers (this is a really fun activity for the kids – the messier, the merrier).
- You’ll all need to wash your hands before the next step.
- Add the eggs and syrup and mix with a wooden spoon until they’re totally combined and form a smooth paste.
- Now flour your work surface and divide the dough between the children. Make sure you have a rolling pin for each child and then get rolling. Try to make sure the rolled dough is about half a centimetre thick.
- Hand out the Christmas cookie cutters and let the kids cut out their festive shapes (trees, stars, stockings, etc). Make sure they take turns with the cutters so everybody has a go with each shape.
- As the kids cut the cookies, show them how to reform the leftover scraps of dough and re-roll to cut more cookies (less waste this way).
- If you want to hang these cookies from your tree, now’s the time to make a hole in each with a kebab skewer – make sure the holes are large enough (but not too close to the edge) as they will shrink slightly during baking.
- Place the cut out shapes onto a greased, floured baking sheet with plenty of space between them and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. You may need to bake in batches if your oven isn’t large.
- Remove from the oven and allow the gingerbread shapes to cool (you’ll need to keep a good eye on the kids during this time or you may well find you have a much smaller batch to ice than you expected!).
- When the shapes are cool, hand out the writing icing tubes and let the kids go wild decorating the cookies. If you prefer, you can ice the cookies with a white icing base before the kids decorate them – this will make the coloured icing look brighter.
- Leave the icing to set overnight and the next day thread with festive coloured ribbons for hanging on the tree.
If you want to make these gingerbread tree ornaments as gifts, then wrap in batches of 6 in coloured cellophane and tie with red or green bows for creative Christmas gifts that will go down a treat.