After two days of playing with gingerbread playdough, it was time for the real thing: Making gingerbread!
The dough needs to be made a day in advance, as it has to rest in the fridge for around 10-12 hours or more, or the consistency won’t be very good for rolling the dough out etc. We used a Swedish recipe, modified to fit in with what was available in our cupboard, here in the UK:
- 2,5 dl sugar
- 0,75 dl golden syrup
- 0,75 dl water
- 150 g Stork margarine (alt. butter)
- 1 heaped tbsp of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp of ginger
- 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cloves
- 375 g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
Put sugar, syrup and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off and add the margarine (or butter). Let the margarine melt into the mixture, while adding the spices. Then let it all sit for a good while, without stirring, to cool down. When it’s gone cold, mix in the flour and baking powder.
At this stage, it’ll probably seem more like gingerbread soup or goo, rather than dough. Do NOT add more flour! Just let it rest and it will get firmer.
Once it’s firm enough to gather into a big lump, take it out of the saucepan and wrap it in clingfilm or a plastic bag, and place it in the fridge. Leave it there for at least 10 hours.
When you take it out of the bag it’ll probably stil be quite soft and sticky. Spread a lot of flour on your table/baking surface and work some of the flour into the dough, making it easier to work with. Roll the dough out thinly, and use cookie cutters for making whatever shapes you fancy (don’t try to roll out all the dough in one go, do a little bit at the time). Bake them in the middle of your oven, on gas mark 4, for about 6-8 minutes.
Penguin was very keen and happy to help with getting the dough out, spreading flour on the table and working it into the dough, and using the cookie cutters. He was also delighted to explore the dough in other ways, such as making patterns in it as seen in the picture below. I feel it’s important to allow time for this kind of sensory exploration. As a child who often behaves differently from the norm, Penguin gets told to ‘don’t do that’ often enough. So I try to let him go about things in his own way as much as possible.
I got Penguin to help with rolling the dough out as well, using the rolling pin, but he couldn’t quite apply the amount of pressure needed to make it thin. This isn’t due to lack of strength, but he’s not yet able to judge how much pressure to apply, which is to do with processing information from the proprioceptive sensory system. The same thing goes for using the cookie cutters. He can use them perfectly well with thicker dough, playdough etc., but with this thin dough (and metal cutters which he rarely uses) he struggled to apply enough pressure. It’ll come, with time and practice.
Penguin had an idea about putting stars in the center of the larger figures, which I think was a lovely idea, but unfortunately they kept falling apart, so it didn’t quite work. We’d need even bigger cutters, or a smaller star.
We used a straw to make holes in a few of the smaller figures, to be able to hang them in our tiny tree. A few of our gingerbread pieces got burnt, so here’s Rudolph sporting a black nose, rather than his usual red colour 😉 :
After making the gingerbread, Penguin enjoyed the fruits of his labour by eating a good number of these straight away, including a few burnt ones which he seemed extra keen on (possibly due to their extra crispy texture).
We put some of the gingerbread aside for decorating with icing, and we also made parts for a very simple gingerbread house. But that’ll be tomorrow’s post 😉