The battered red wooden skis and memories constructed from family stories and photos are all that remains of our two years in Germany. Pictures of my older sister, then three, dressed in a furry lined anorak, Scandi patterned hat and mittens proudly skiing to Kindergarten. Photos of my mother, barely recognisable behind the veneer of 1950s European fashion, pushing a pram around the university campus where my Father was a professor.
The stories, always merry ones, usually ended with the tale of St Nicholas. A skinny more elegant version of Santa, who visits children’s homes on the night of 5th December. If they’ve been good then he fills their shoes, left carefully outside the front door, with wonderful gingerbread and if not, it’s coal!
We adopted this tradition and despite German Lebkuchken being very hard to find then, even in London, our shoes were always filled with spiced, chewy, pastel iced hearts and seemingly enormous chocolate covered slabs of gingerbread pasted with a picture of the elegant benefactor, St Nicholas.
I don’t often make gingerbread at any other time of the year, but it certainly heralds Christmas for me and is a perfect treat for the run up to the festive season. It makes a wonderful gift and in Sweden a version is served with Glog, mulled wine, to welcome guests in from the cold.
Iced Gingerbread Cookies
- 2 tablespoon Clear honey
- 2 tablespoon Treacle
- 40 g Unsalted butter
- 75 g Soft brown sugar
- 1 zest lemon
- 225 g Self raising flour
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon Ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon Mace
- ¼ teaspoon Ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon Cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 pinch Salt
- 50 g Ground almonds
- 1 Egg
- In a small saucepan add the honey, treacle, butter, sugar and lemon zest. Place on a medium heat and stir until the butter has melted, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl, add all the spices, salt and the almonds, stir well until the ingredients are well combined. Add the melted butter mixture and the beaten egg and stir to form a stiff dough.
- Sprinkle a little flour on the worktop and knead the dough until it is smooth, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours.
- Preheat the oven 180c, 160c fan, gas mark 4, 350f. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. Using festive cookie cutters, stamp out shapes and place on a greased baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the edges just turning brown at the edges. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- Once cold decorate with royal icing and edible glitter or cover with melted chocolate. I used ready made icing from the supermarket which comes with a multi nozzle attachment.