I confess gingerbread is not something I used to make. Not sure why, I guess I just never really fancied it so never made it. It was only when I had to come up with a gingerbread sculpture (mine looked more like a car crash!) for biscuit week on The Great British Bake Off that I started to test out recipes. That was when I discovered that the rest of my family loves this warm and spicy biscuit. Who would have known? I still feel guilty that I had been depriving them for all these years and that they had been getting their gingerbread fix elsewhere. Well not anymore! It is now firmly on the list of regular bakes in the Beedle household, I can't have my kids nipping off to the local bakery to buy their biscuits, Oh the shame!!!
This recipe for gluten free gingerbread was inspired by someone on Twitter. They had commented that they missed it now they had gone gluten free and hadn't found a recipe that worked. Not one to shy away from a challenge I thought I would give it a go.
I have several types of gluten free flour in the house. My Dad was diagnosed coeliac towards the end of his life and I had bought lots of different ones to see if I could recreate his favourite bakes. I think he would approve of this. Do you know I don't know if he even liked gingerbread, now I will never know!
Anyway, woke up at a ridiculously early hour on Saturday morning and thought I would start recipe testing while the family slept.
I found that one combination of flour gave me a lovely crunchy biscuit with a good snap, and another gave me a slightly softer gingerbread. Both nice it just depends on what you prefer. My husband and son prefer the crunchy while I'm on the fence, I like them both.
I started with a shop bought gluten free plain flour base (Doves Farm) it is a blend of different flours, I then added coconut flour and tapioca flour. This produced the crisp biscuit with a good snap. I then made a second batch replacing the tapioca with gram or chickpea flour. The taste of the chickpea really complements the ginger. Lovely flavour but a softer texture. It really is a matter of personal preference.
Both mixtures can be a little crumbly to roll out, I found I had to add a drop of water to hold it all together, adding a few drops more when re-rolling the trimmings. Different flours absorb liquid differently, you will have to use your judgement but do not be tempted to make it too wet. The mixture may not seem to want to come together but if you work it enough it will. There is not gluten in the flour to toughen your dough so you do not have to worry about how much you knead it.
So here goes, I hope you like the recipe and for all of you who asked for it I hope it means you can once again enjoy these lovely spicy biscuits.
Makes 24 Christmas Trees or 16 men (approx. depends on size of cutter)
Time ½ - ¾ Hours plus cooling and decorating
200g Gluten free plain flour (I use Doves Farm)
75g Tapioca Flour (see notes)
75g Coconut Flour
1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp Xanthan gum
2tsp Ground ginger (more if you like it hot)
1/2 tsp Mixed spice (optional I just like the flavour)
120g Salted butter
175g Soft brown sugar (light or dark)
4tbs Golden syrup (see note)
1 Large Egg beaten
1-2 tbs Water
For decoration, royal icing and possibly sprinkles, glitter would be good too!
2-3 baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper, your favourite biscuit cutters
Preheat oven to 150C (fan) 170C (conventional)
Mix together all the flours, xanthan gum, soda and spices, rub in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, you can do this in a food processor.
Stir in the sugar.
Add the egg, syrup and 1 tbs of water and work until the mixture comes together into a smooth dough, adding more water if very crumbly but don’t over wet it.
On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough to approx 2mm thick and cut out as many biscuits as you can. Place on lined baking sheets.
Re-roll the trimmings, you may need to add a little extra water as the dough is quite crumbly but don’t worry it will be fine.
Bake in batches in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before placing on a rack to cool completely.
Make up the royal icing, and decorate. Go to town, the prettier the better!
I used Bobs Red Mill tapioca flour, I ordered online but you can get it at Holland and Barrett, it’s great for binding gluten free things together
Coconut flour you can get in most places
If you want a softer biscuit replace tapioca flour with gram or chickpea flour
Golden syrup – I ran out and added a tbs of black treacle, it gives a slightly richer flavour, you could play with the quantities or use all treacle depends on your taste.
Different flours absorb different amounts of liquid. If your dough does not come together add a little more egg or water but you don’t want a sticky dough
Do not worry about overworking the dough, there is no gluten in the flour so it will not get tough.
I have not found that you need to chill the dough, it does not seem to spread too much at all.