Top Tips for Gingerbread Christmas Decorations

To make the perfect gingerbread Christmas decorations you need to know how to make the perfect gingerbread.

The Perfect Dough

To start it’s all about consistency, if the dough is too wet it won’t roll out easily and will spread when baking, ruining the shape of the soon to be decoration. If the dough is too dry it will crumble when rolling and crack when baking. Before you start anything make sure all ingredients are room temperature. Don’t over beat the butter and sugar and take it easy when kneading the dough. Knead it enough to bring it together and let it rest, this way your gingerbread won’t be tough.

A harder gingerbread is best for creating decorations as it holds its shape, and is sturdier when constructing. To make a hard gingerbread dough cream together butter, sugar and eggs and combine this with the dry ingredients.

Time to Relax…

Rest is best, we all work better when we’re well rested and gingerbread is no exception. This is a key step in the gingerbread making process it allows the dough to firm up and eliminates shrinkage allowing a clean cut (and it also gives you time to make a festive beverage and put your feet up).

All about the Spice

It’s all about personal preference for this one, you can follow a recipe or get creative with your favourite spices. There’s an array of spices to choose from (of course the main one is ginger), to add more depth to your gingerbread you can add cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg or any of your favourite autumnal spices. You can taste the dough as you go along to achieve your perfect flavour combination.

Getting Your Timings Right

Once you’ve got your gingerbread shapes it’s time to bake! Knowing when to take your gingerbread out of the oven is tricky and it’s common to burn them. Once the edges are lightly browned remove the tray from the oven. If you touch the biscuits while they’re in the oven they’ll be very soft and you might be tempted to leave them in. Gingerbread hardens when it cools so to avoid burning bring them out and leave them to cool on the tray for 5 to 10 minutes.  

Now for the Fun Part

Now that you’ve made amazing gingerbread and it’s baked to perfection it’s time to decorate! You can’t go wrong with royal icing when decorating biscuits. You can either make it from scratch or you can buy royal icing sugar and just add water (I know which one I’d prefer).

Depending on what your design is you’ll need different consistencies of icing. If you’re flooding the biscuit you’ll need a runnier icing and if you’re doing line designs or outlines you’ll need a thicker icing to hold its shape.

When you’re initially making the icing make it a thicker consistency and from that you can take the amount needed from that batch and thin it down with a small amount of water or lemon juice for flooding.

Adding bright or subtle colouring to your icing can transform your decorations.

It’s always a good idea to practice icing on baking paper so you don’t waste any of your gingerbread.

Storage

Gingerbread and humidity don’t mix well, it shortens shelf life and makes it soft (which is not ideal for gingerbread decorations). The best thing to do is keep your creations in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

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