Gingerbread biscuits are one of those treats that come out at Halloween and Christmas, where they are adorned with as much colourful sugar as gravity will allow and served as a centrepiece at the table. These biscuits are a communal activity that the whole family like to get involved in, even if it’s just stealing them off the plate before they’re finished. This will keep the kids busy over the coming holiday. I put my son to work on them yesterday and he got totally stuck in. It wasn’t long before my wife and daughter were also taking part. My wife, Samantha, made jars to go in the shot and Charlotte, my daughter, rescued me from my pitiful attempts at biscuit decoration with some of her artful designs. Cake decorating – not my thing!
This recipe is vegan and gluten-free, once again making use of the buckwheat flour that I’m so fond of. The dough can be made in about 5 minutes flat, but you must chill it for an hour at least if you want to be able to work with it. Sorry, there is no short cut here. The dough makes quite a lot of biscuits, so I would advise rolling out a quarter of it at a time and keeping the rest chilled until you are ready to use it. One quarter of the dough will fill a good-sized baking sheet with biscuits. I rolled my dough out to about 5mm thick, but if you prefer a thicker biscuit then go for it. Just remember that you may need to add a little more time to the cooking.
Prep time: 30 minutes, including cutting. Chill time: 1 hour. Cooking time: 10 minutes per batch.
Makes about 4 trays.
400g buckwheat flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ tsp ground ginger
150g vegan margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g dark brown sugar
50g black treacle
2 tbsp almond milk.
You will also need Halloween-shaped biscuit cutters.
Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine. In a separate bowl add all the wet ingredients and mix well with a spoon or whisk to fully incorporate. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet then, using a knife or a spoon, mix the whole lot until it starts to clump together. Now is the time to get your hands dirty. Bring the mixture together with both hands to form a dough, then remove the bowl and knead on a lightly-floured surface for 3-4 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C/350F.
Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper, then take a quarter of the biscuit dough and roll it out on a well-floured surface to about 5mm thick (you can go thicker if you prefer). Use your chosen cutters to make shapes out of the dough and place them on the baking sheet. Leave a little gap between them but you don’t need too much as they won’t spread – a centimetre will do it. Once you have cut out all you can, roll up the left-over dough again and repeat the process to use up as much as you can. When the baking sheet is full, place in the middle of the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Once cooked, leave to cool on a cooling rack while you roll out the next quarter of dough. Repeat the whole process until all the dough is gone. When the biscuits are cooled you can decorate them with coloured icing of your choice.