I will not believe if the smell of warming spices filling your home doesn’t activate your tastebuds, and make you want to cosy up on the sofa with some hot chocolate and the ugliest Christmas jumper there is! I’m sure that for many of you, like for me, spices are a crucial part of Christmas; cinnamon, nutmeg and my all-time favourite cloves are just some of many festive flavours, which are incredibly nostalgic.
These soft gingerbread cookies are a vegan take of the ones I remember my mum baking in the run-up to Christmas; she would make the dough 3 weeks in advance and let it mature in the cold, then me and my sister would dive into the cutting which always left the kitchen in a post-apocalyptic state, and would decorate them, but only a week later after they had softened.
Do not panic, this recipe isn’t quite as long-winded, and is very easy to follow, but without jeopardising any of the traditional flavour or texture. I used spelt flour for a nutty and wholesome flavour, used a gingerbread pice blend with cloves, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and sweetened them with coconut sugar which gives an incredible colour and deep caramel flavour: they are pure alchemy!
I’d recommend baking these three to five days in advance and putting them in a jar with half of a raw apple (this helps them soften faster), after this time the flavour becomes richer, and the cookies soften, as after cooling they harden rapidly. This is a traditional method that is used in eastern European countries such as Poland and Germany and something I learnt from my mum and nana, so it is fault-proof.
1 1/2 tablespoons milled linseed
Small shot of strong black coffee
3 cups spelt flour
1 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cacao powder
3 tablespoons gingerbread spice
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons date syrup, molasses, agave or maple
1/2 cup almond milk
Preheat the oven to 180℃ then combine the milled linseed with the coffee and set aside to thicken.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cacao, spices, baking soda and salt. Then, place the milk and oil in a small saucepan and gently heat through, pour Ito the dry ingredients along with the syrup of choice, and mix well. Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball and stops sticking to your hands, add more flour if necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, roll out into roughly 1cm thick and cut out shapes using your favourite festive cookie cutters. Place the gingerbread onto a lined baking tray and bake for 11-13 minutes (they will be soft when they come out, but will harden as they cool)
After roughly 5 days, combine water and icing sugar, you can also add matcha tea for a green icing, and decorate the gingerbread, get your whole family involved and be creative together!