My kids, like most kids, love gingerbread shapes. My kids have also grown-up in a time when meeting up with friends in a cafe is commonplace, and as a result I worry that they have too many cakes and biscuits that are full of sugars, refined flours and saturated and trans fats. There is also the added complication that dairy (which is invariably found in most baked products in the form of milk or butter) seems to contribute to my son’s eczema. I think it would be a great idea for cafes that have large numbers of children visiting should have some healthier options for kids–maybe some little snack boxes with plain popcorn or little fruit cups even some cheese sticks. Anyway I’ve put a stop to buying treats when we are out at a cafe and limited our intake to a coffee or tea for me, a bubbacino (no marshmallows please) for my daughter and a juice or a soy milk for my son. Unless of course we are at James Street Bakery and I must have a macaron. This doesn’t cause too many tantrums, as long as I promise that we can make gingerbread shapes when we get home.
I like to think my gingerbread shapes are healthier than those we could buy in a shop. I’ve increased the fibre content and included wholemeal flour, reduced the sugar to about half, reduced the total fat by substituting some with apple sauce and made them dairy free (for my son’s sake) by using coconut oil.
The kids love using the cutters to press out the shapes and then topping with sprinkles or hundreds-and-thousands to make them look a bit more festive. They can be a bit impatient while I’m getting the dough made, so I would advise to try and make it in advance and have it in the fridge ready for rolling.
Dex and Quinn’s Gingerbread shapes
70g coconut oil
55g unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons golden syrup (or 1 tbsp golden syrup and 1tbsp molasses)
90g caster sugar
155g self-raising wholemeal flour
155g self-raising high-fibre white flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
rainbow sprinkles/ hundreds-and-thousands/ whatever you desire for decorating
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius (340 fahrenheit).
Grease and line a baking tray.
Melt the coconut oil and golden syrup/molasses in a saucepan over low heat.
Remove from heat and add sugar, egg and apple sauce. Mix thoroughly.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a bowl.
Pour over the coconut oil mixture and mix well.
Once I have a dough I like to put it in the fridge for about an hour to firm up a bit. Don’t chill for too long because the coconut oil seems to make the dough set pretty hard.
I often divide the dough in half at this point and freeze half for the next time we want to make gingerbread. To thaw I pull the dough out the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight and then at room temperature for several hours before rolling.
Once the dough is ready to roll I put it between two large pieces of baking paper. I find this is the best way to stop it sticking and not incorporating more flour which can make it dry.
Cut out your shapes, decorate and pop in the oven until nicely browned (about 15 mins, but every oven differs and everyone has a different idea about the texture of gingerbread–I like mine a little crisp rather than soft and chewy).
Cool on a rack.