Probably totally against all the trends, I don’t really associate Christmas with presents. Perhaps it’s because the best Christmas I remember are the ones from my early childhood; that is Christmas in the 80’s in communist Poland. Although it must be something more than that, as even later on, luckily, Xmas presents always played a secondary role for me.


What a contrast if you look at the usual approach to Christmas these days! Luckily, both I and my husband have the same approach here, so if there are any gifts under the Christmas tree, they’re purely symbolic.


And, of course, according to my family tradition, the presents on Christmas Eve are brought by a ‘little star’. Saint Nicholas also brings gifts, but that’s on a different date – today! 6th of December is the official saint day of Saint Nicholas in Poland, so if you’ve been good over last year, you can expect a little something. And can there be something better than a hand-made gift? I don’t think so.


This year for Saint Nicholas day, we’ve got gingerbread cookies – mum’s recipe. I remember that every year we’d make them some 2-3 weeks in advance and then (after a brief tasting session…) put them into a cookie tin, with a slice of apple. We’d take them out and decorate just before Xmas. And that’s how I make them every year.

Ingredients

Makes 30-40 gingerbread cookies

100g clear honey
4 cloves, crushed
0.5 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp ground cardamom
0.25tsp nutmeg
0.5tsp ground ginger
300g flour
50g cold butter
75g / 4 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp baking soda
0.5 egg to brush the cookies

Preparation

In a small saucepan place together the honey and the spices and heat up slowly, stirring constantly until the honey browns. Add one tablespoon of hot water and set aside to cool.


Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and cut with a knife into small pieces. Add the sugar and mix. Make a hole in the dry ingredients, add the egg, cooled honey with spices, and the baking soda dissolved in a tablespoon of cold water. Make a dough, initially mixing all the ingredients with the knife and then with your hand, until a smooth dough forms.


Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave in a cool place for about 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 160 C / gas mark 4.


Roll out the dough to about 0.5cm thick. Using cookie cutters cut out various shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and brush with a lightly beaten egg.


Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden-brown. Leave to cool.


You can prepare the gingerbread cookies 2-3 weeks in advance. After baking and cooling, place them in an airtight container with a bit of apple, so that the gingerbreads don’t get too hard.


Decorate before serving.


Bon appétit!
Lena x

Christmas gingerbread cookies
Christmas gingerbread cookies




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