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Gingerbread Advent Calendar

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Here for the festive season we’re in a bit of limbo. Not sure where we’ll be this year means shockingly I’ve not made of my traditional Christmas cakes or puddings as I may have nowhere to store them. However I wasn’t going to let Christmas go by without one special bake.

Thanks to a certain episode of Great British Bake Off we did begin to hatch a plan to make a gingerbread house to end all gingerbread houses with Design Engineer Hubs using Solidworks to design the template but various things threw a spanner in that works. Then Hubs decided he HAD to have the Star Wars Lego advent calendar and I had to have my own. As much as I lusted over the idea of a Paul A Young advent calendar I just couldn’t justify the £65 . During a trip to the wondrous Swedish warehouse of Ikea I spotted the set of Drömmar biscuit cutters. Yes I could have had their Christmas set, but frankly there isn’t enough squirrel and snail shaped baked goods in this world. I decided I would bake my own advent calendar as it would also be a perfect excuse to eat a daily biscuit and chance to practice my royal icing skills.

I initially planned to pipe the numbers on to the biscuits but after seeing the cakes The Vanilla Pod made for our Bonfire Party I decided to break with my fancy cutter ban and use my Tappit alphabet cutters. I usually don’t like the over-use of cutters on cakes and biscuits preferring to model or pipe by hand but I like the cleanness of the font. Don’t worry, you’ll never catch me using the Curlz font tappit cutters on my baking.

I was going to use lots of different colours, but ended up sticking to just red and white. I’m glad I did because sometimes the simplest colours scheme looks the best, plus it gives it a bit of the Scandi look to it.

This isn’t the quickest project and I did it in stages. Baked one day, iced the next then added the numbers the day after. I wanted the royal icing to set hard before sticking the numbers on. I now have big respect for Quirky Cookies & Biscuiteers as piping biscuits takes a great deal longer that I anticipated.

You must use Royal Icing to decorate biscuits as it needs to dry hard. I cheat and use the Silver Spoon Royal Icing mix as I find it works perfectly for me and it saves using egg whites. For the numbers I use a mixture of sugarpaste and floral (gum) paste. This works best in the Tappit cutters and dries quickly.

I am now addicted to piping royal icing. If it sits still for long enough it’ll get something piped on to it. Watch out business clients, friends and family. Guess what you’ll all be getting for Christmas?

Gingerbread Advent Calendar
Depending on the size of cutters you use this could make up to 40 biscuits. The leftover dough can be frozen either as a ball or in shapes ready to be baked straight from the freezer.

350g Plain Flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1-2 tsp of ground ginger

115g unsalted butter, cubed

170g soft dark brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp (40g) of golden syrup

milk (may not be needed, see recipe)

250g royal icing sugar

food dye

1) Preheat the oven to 180°c and cover 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

2) Rub together the flour, butter, ginger and bicarbonate of soda until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.

3) In a smaller bowl mix together the sugar, egg and golden syrup. Pour this in to the dry ingredients. To start with mix the dough with a spoon then once it is well combined use your hands to knead the dough. At first the mixture can seem quite dry but keep kneading. It will become soft and pliable. If required add a splash of milk to help the dough to come together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 min.

4) Roll the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Cut out the shapes and place on baking sheet. Put the baking trays back in the fridge for another 30 min. This chilling stage is essential to stop the biscuits spreading.

baked gingerbread

5) Bake this gingerbread straight from the fridge for 15 min until slightly risen, beginning to colour and harden. If you are unsure, it is better to slightly over-bake (Don’t read that as burn!) than under-bake as you want quite hard, dry biscuits. They need to last for a month. Leave for 5 min then continue to cool completely on a wire rack. As they cool down they will continue to harden.

6) Make up your royal icing following instructions on packet, colour the icing as required and fill icing bags with size 0 piping tips.

7) First pipe the outline of the shapes. Allow to dry for 10-30 min.

8) Take the icing you have used for piping the outlines, squeeze into a bowl and add a small amount of water to make the icing thinner. This will be used to flood the gingerbread. It almost acts like self-levelling concrete. You want it thin enough to flood the spaces, but not too thin that it dribbles off the biscuit.

9) Flood the biscuits with the icing. If need be use a cocktail stick to help guide the icing in to corners. Allow to dry until hard. I usually give them a minimum of 12 hours to dry.

10) Decorate with the numbers. Store in a tin or airtight box and they should last until Christmas eve.

 

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About the author

Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/11/27/gingerbread-advent-calendar/

31 comments

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  1. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    I know I simply won’t manage to make these but I can just pop over here to admire your skill instead. These are just about perfect and I will attempt this one year, I promise, just not this year. I have saved my efforts for a gingerbread house to decorate with the children and that hopefully will get my icing skills honed enough to attempt these beautiful biscuits next year I hope!

    1. Jules

      I look forward to seeing your gingerbread house.

  2. Sophie {the cake hunter}

    I suspect I would be able to make them last until Christmas Eve, they look gorgeous. I need a squirrel cookie cutter in my life…time for a trip to Ikea I think.

    1. Jules

      I dare you though to go to Ikea & only buy the cutters. Impossible!

  3. Patricia Shea

    Ha ha I love it – my sculptor partner was due to make a Gingerbread House template for me in Sketch Up – but that didn’t happen either :) These biscuits are LOVELY – what a charming idea and so beautifully executed – well done, love that you kept to red and white – very folkloric!

    1. Jules

      Next year we’ll have to make sure we make the gingerbread masterpieces!

  4. Homemade By Fleur

    Stunning set of biscuits. I wish I had time to do some myself but sadly not this year. Maybe next year instead…

    1. Jules

      Thank you Fleur.

  5. jobanneh

    I’ve stumbled upon this blog. I am dreaming of a day when I no longer work full time. What fun to have a fresh made biscuit Advent calendar.

    1. Jules

      I found them quite therapeutic to make during my busy work. I got lost in hours of piping.

  6. Sally

    I have a gingerbread decorating session for bloggers at my house every December and collect ideas throughout the year (on pinterest) – the most beautiful gingerbread I have seen in a long time. Usually love the white icing only but will be getting out the red this year. Which red did you use (gel colours I presume)?

    1. Jules

      I use Sugarflair Christmas Red gels as it gives a good vivid red, you still need quite a bit of the gel though to stop it looking pink.

  7. argone

    hi ! discovered your post thanks to Tastespotting … my oh my your Advent cookies are lovely ! congrats !

  8. Chele

    How gorgeous. I love it and its such a novel idea for an advent. Pure genius ;0)

  9. thingswemake.co.uk

    These are gorgeous Jules. Well done. How are you going to display them? I haven’t got the patience for such tidy piping.

    1. Jules

      Currently they are layered up in numerical order in a tin.

  10. Sarah Maison Cupcake

    These look fantastic! I bought that set of cutters last year but have never used them. You’ve done a brilliant job of making them all look different yet only using two colours. Awesome!

  11. @Lavender and Lovage (@KarenBurnsBooth)

    What a FABULOUS idea! I have seen similar ideas in France and Germany, but these are GREAT and I may be able to make some, as I have a stack of Christmas cutters! Karen

  12. Nelly

    This is gorgeous! I need to get me some new biscuit cutters and perhaps some patience to give these a go! Lovely.

  13. Jayne

    These are beautiful Jules! Your piping skills are amazing, well done! The prettiest of Advent calendars!

  14. Kim

    Just happen to have these Ikea cutters!!!!! I think I’m so in love with your hole calender that I just have to make myself one!!!!! Thanks!

  15. Helen T

    I’m definitely going to do this next year, start a new tradition. Got to be tastier than many chocolate advent calendars!

  16. seventypesofbiscuits

    I love the squirrel.

    I thought I loved gingerbread, but it turned out that I’ve never actually tried it. What I’ve been baking all these years turned out to be ginger nuts according to Wikipedia…

  17. Vicki Smith

    It’s a work of art!

  18. @GardnPrtyBakery

    Great idea!!! http://t.co/T8Y1vyNfjz

  19. @barradoce

    Faça 24 biscoitos em diversos formatos e desenhos e decore com números para formar um doce calendário do advento. http://t.co/c8ahHq5iYz

  20. @web_goddess

    RT @DomesticJules: It’s that time of year again http://t.co/BJ140rv06T http://t.co/m5JB2PzwjJ

  21. @ladybridgefood

    “@DomesticJules: It’s that time of year again http://t.co/dzbREFf3RK http://t.co/Jo27r0NogE” how fab! MrG

  22. @snappyshoes

    Pity, bcos I found this: RT @DomesticJules: It’s that time of year again http://t.co/VTfQVI01Iq http://t.co/rBqt8wLncR

  23. @SugarBowlBakery

    Start the month with a cookie advent calendar! http://t.co/gsYmwmLF4S

  24. Jules: Apple & Thyme (@appleandthyme)

    Don’t miss out on an advent calendar this #applethymeadvent, bake one. http://t.co/pm4kN7o3B6

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