Giant Gingerbread Men
There’s something about a gingerbread man that evokes feelings of childhood in me. Not that I spent my childhood days making and decorating gingerbread men…far from it. There were times when we’d ask my Mum ‘Can we bake?’ and she’d reply ‘Yes as long as you don’t use the oven’, which was code for if you do you’re on your own I’m not helping! This led, at times, to some quite, let’s call it ‘imaginative’ concoctions being made. Only my sister will understand what I mean when I say the words ‘Blue Ready-brek hedgehogs’!!! Oh yes it is quite possible to make Ready brek so thick you can actually mould it into shapes!
The Coffee Beans are always asking if they can bake, they love it. It’s not because they want to spend time with me it’s because they want to lick the spoon and eat all the flapjack mixture. Sometimes though you want the fun of baking without all the hassle that can come along with ‘little fingers’ in your mixing bowl!
Decorating the bake, I find, is half the fun for children and I use the term ‘children’ here loosely. When I was in my early 20’s I took a camping holiday with a group of my university friends. We stopped off on the way at a Tesco to buy provisions and came out with a ready made decorate your own gingerbread man kit. We were totally not rock and roll, we used it as a holiday activity by sitting in the tent having a competition to see who could decorate the best one….er…then we went to the pub and we certainly weren’t in bed by 9:30pm laughing about the fact that we’d found ourselves complaining that the clubhouse music was so loud we couldn’t sleep!
Anyway back to the point…
A couple of weeks ago I knew the Coffee Beans were desperate to do some baking but we had so much going on that it just wasn’t possible. So whilst I was in the kitchen I rustled up a batch of gingerbread and made some giant gingerbread men.
This may seem like a lot of hassle and mess having to make the dough but I have some short cuts! I always roll out my dough on greaseproof paper because I can’t be bothered flouring the surface and I always bake biscuits and cookies on greaseproof paper (and a baking sheet obviously) to stop them sticking. So I basically rolled it, cut round it, left it on the greaseproof and put in on the tray in the oven. Yes I realise that if you grease the tray things don’t stick but I have a set of 4 trays that fit 2 perfectly next to each other on both shelves and since when I’m baking there’s usually repeated batches going in this makes the trays easily reusable straight away.
Obviously I don’t have a giant cutter, I wish I did but I don’t, so I made a template out of greaseproof paper and then cut around it. You could print off and gingerbread man shape from the internet but I just folded a piece of greaseproof paper in half cut the shape of half a gingerbread man and then unfolded it making him whole. I placed it on my rolled out dough and cut round it with a sharp knife, then took off the excess dough. I made the excess into stick biscuits – great for dunking in a cup of tea!
I kept the process minimal and quick the only thing I had to be careful of was when taking them off the baking trays. Because they are on the greaseproof they slide off quite easily but since they were also warm I needed to make sure that I didn’t bend them and crack them.
With a cooked and cooled gingerbread man successful it was time to think about the decorations.
When we did this bake it was January and there’s always oddments of sweets and chocolates left in our house and so I thought, I’d use them up. I was going to make some water icing as we seem to have a ton of icing sugar but then I realised we had some cheap milk chocolate and some white chocolate (left over from my Christmas tiffin pudding making) so I thought why bother making icing when I can just melt chocolate in the microwave?! Even those random chocolate coins that are still floating about can be melted down and used as glue for decorative sweets.
I did need piping bags though and I do have some disposable ones in the cupboard rather than digging about trying to find some I made my own out of greaseproof paper. Honestly I don’t know why I’ve not been doing this all along, it was so simple! If you’ve never made one here’s the You Tube tutorial I watched.
Before we started I put all of the decorating things on a plate and did some taste testing as a simple risk assessment to check everything was still okay! Then I melted the chocolate in the microwave and put it into the bags. Once I’d tasted a couple more sweets (as you can never to be too careful) I called the boys in. Their excitement at decorating a giant biscuit was like Christmas all over and the additional excitement of getting to use a piping bag was almost too much!
We must have been sat round the table decorating for half an hour. Which doesn’t sound long but with a 3 year old and 6 year old who are like whirlwinds and don’t sit still for long half an hour was quite an achievement. They both really got into it and Mr. OMC and I also decorated one between us channelling our inner childhood creativity.
You know where people say less is more, well where sweets and chocolate are involved it was definitely a case of more is more! The boys started off with really nice aesthetically pleasing gingerbread men but in the event that they needed to keep adding more sweets to them big Coffee Bean got creative in his interpretations and ended up creating an ‘alien monster gingerbread thing.’ Little Coffee Bean isn’t daft and realising this was the way to keep adding more sweets and chocolate to his duly followed suit!
Here’s what we ended up with, right before little Coffee Bean popped the icing bag and squirted chocolate all over himself and the table!
This was such a great activity to do on a damp, cold windy day, they even chose this over playing outside. It was so much fun to do as a family and it created a pudding for them for over the next few days too! Bonus!
If you need a gingerbread recipe heres one I’ve used. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/gingerbread_men_99096