Gingerbread, for so many of us, is synonymous with the Christmas holidays. There are certainly many different types of recipes available, but this particular one is one of our family’s favorites, and has been converted into gluten free, using Oma’s special recipe. Gingerbread was Oma’s specialty around Christmas and I have many fond memories of her in her tiny kitchen, lovingly preparing this delicacy, made just once a year. If she invited one of us to help her, that was truly special. It is not a ginger cake, but a true traditional German-style gingerbread. While baking, it will fill your house with the beautiful scent of its combination of spices – ginger, anise, cloves and cinnamon. In the olden days, this type of gingerbread was made using peculiar ingredients, such as “Hirschhornsalz,” “potash” and “natron.” Some of these ingredients supposedly provided softness to the dough, and, no doubt, insured greater longevity of the end product. After researching these ingredients, that makes sense, especially considering the Ancient Egyptians used some of them for embalming purposes. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?!? Naturally, we would never use any of these more questionable ingredients in our recipes. If you insist on their inclusion, you may do so at your own risk. However, they are simply unnecessary, and we don’t know why anyone would even want to.
This gingerbread is delicious and is very easy to make. Provided you have the following ingredients on hand, you can enjoy your first taste in a couple of hours.
- 1/2 stick of organic butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup coconut sugar, or sucanat
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground anise
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4-1/2 cups gluten free flour, consisting of 2 cups brown rice flour, 1-1/2 cups tapioca flour, 1 cup sweet rice flour
- 1-1/2 tsp. guar gum
- 1 tsp. ground psyllium seeds
- 2-1/2 tsp. gluten free baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. Himalaya salt
- 3 Tbsp. coconut milk
- parchment paper, enough to line at least two baking sheets
- your favorite cookie cutters, such as gingerbread men and women, trees, stars, hearts, etc.
White chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts (optional)
- 1 cup organic powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. peppermint extract
Measure out all the dry ingredients (flour, guar gum, baking powder, baking soda and psyllium seeds) and blend well in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter, adding the sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, honey and spices, a little at a time. Blend well. Add the flour, about a cup at a time, to this batter, until you have a kneadable dough. Shape the dough into a thick log, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the gingerbread dough from the refrigerator. Cut the log into three equal pieces. Leave out one third to roll out, and return the rest of the dough into the refrigerator, well wrapped.
Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dust a baking board with a little sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to not less than 1/4-inch thickness. If you accidentally roll them out thinner, you will ultimately be making ginger snaps, instead of gingerbread cookies. Still very good, but a slightly different result.
Select your cookie cutters and cut out the gingerbread, placing them about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch this process carefully. We live at high altitude and they tend to bake very quickly. If you are at sea level, you may require an additional 2-5 minutes. Place the baked cookies on a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Keep shaping any left over dough into a ball and roll out again. Remember to sprinkle a small amount of sweet rice on the board, before rolling out another batch of dough. Repeat this process as often as necessary. When the first batch of dough is nearly used up, add another third of the dough to it from the refrigerator. If you choose large shaped cookie cutters, naturally you will go through this process very quickly, and likewise it will take a little longer with smaller size cutters.
Let all the cookies cool completely before decorating, or frosting.
For the white frosting, simply blend the powdered sugar with the lemon juice. Then either spread even layers of it on the cookies, or place it in a pastry bag and decorate them to your heart’s content.
For the dark frosting, melt the chocolate chips, in a double boiler, adding the peppermint extract to the melted chocolate, combining the two ingredients very well. Again, either spread even layers of it on your choice of cookies, or use a pastry bag with the addition of a fine tip, for decorating.
Top them with your choice of white chocolate chips, dried fruit, or nuts (optional).
This gingerbread will fill your house with the beautiful scent of ginger, cinnamon and cloves and stores well in a cookie tin, for several days.