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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread. Whether it’s gingerbread men, a gingerbread house or other gingerbread shapes, the mix of spices and the smell of it baking makes me feel all warm and Christmas-y!

Making gingerbread with your little ones is a wonderful activity to do (and not just at Christmas time). It’s easy to make, immense fun to make shapes out of and cooks quickly so you can start decorating sooner.

If you’re cooking with toddlers, you could make the dough yourself beforehand (the dough keeps in the fridge easily for a day) and get your munchkin involved from the ‘cutting out shapes’ stage. Older kids can help make the dough from scratch and while it’s chilling in the fridge, they can start choosing cookie cutters and think about how they’ll decorate them.

Gingerbread keeps wonderfully (in an airtight container) for a couple of weeks. It’s also a lovely present your kids can make and then give to friends and family. We’ve just finished decorating some Christmas trees to give to the staff at Nicholas’ preschool.

Gingerbread Christmas treesThis recipe has been the only one I’ve used to make gingerbread for the last few years. It’s slightly adapted from a Waitrose recipe. If I remember correctly, I just reduced the amount of bicarbonate of soda, as I really don’t like it when I can taste it in the finished product. There’s still enough of it though to puff up the gingerbread a little.

To make cleaning up easier, I like to roll the gingerbread on a piece of baking paper rather than on a floured surface, with a piece of plastic wrap on the top so the rolling pin stays clean too. This also means that your gingerbread won’t accidently stick to your work surface.



Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 9 mins
Makes about 30 medium-sized biscuits

125g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
325g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 190C. Line at least two baking trays with baking paper.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the melted ingredients to make a stiff dough. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for 10 mins (if you’re not going to cook your gingerbread immediately, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge).

Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 3-5mm. Cut out shapes and place on your lined baking trays. Bake for 9 minutes until golden brown.

Leave on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Tip: before measuring out your golden syrup, rub a drop of oil over the spoon; the syrup will easily slide off.

What sweets are your favourite for decorating gingerbread?

Nutella pizza stars

Nutella pizza stars

We had so much fun making our mini pizzas, that we’ve been using the pizza dough to make other things, sweet things!

Cooking the pizza dough a bit longer and without any topping, creates a lovely crispy biscuit texture. And even though the dough isn’t sweet, adding something sweet on top is enough to turn the savoury dough into a sweet treat.

Little ones can help make the dough, roll it out and cut out the shapes, and there’s no easier decoration than spreading Nutella and dusting with icing sugar. They’re going to love their creations!


Prep time: 1 hr 40 mins (for dough to rise twice)
Cook time: 5 mins
Makes about 30 biscuits
Uncooked dough can be frozen

7 g dried yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups strong white bread flour such as “OO” flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
A handful of semolina (optional)
1 jar of Nutella
icing sugar to serve

Put the warm water in a small bowl and add the yeast. Leave for 15 mins for it to froth up.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, olive oil and cold water. Add the yeast mixture and mix until it comes together in a ball.

Knead the dough on a floured work surface for about 5 mins. It should feel elastic and soft, and be a bit sticky.

Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to prove for 20 mins.

Divide the dough into two, place the second piece in another bowl, cover both and leave to prove again for an hour (the dough should double in size).

Heat oven to 220C and leave the tray you’ll use (preferably a heavy-based one) inside to heat up (this helps cook the bottom of the pizzas).

Lightly flour your work bench and roll out one piece of the dough as thin as you can. Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out your shapes.

Lightly cover a cutting board with semolina, place your pizza stars on top and drizzle with a dash of olive oil. Open the oven and bring the hot tray out enough so you can  sprinkle on some more semolina and slide the stars from the cutting board on to the tray (the semolina will help them move more easily).

The time it takes to cook your pizza stars depends on the thickness of your dough, but they should only take about 5 mins so keep a close eye on them. They’ll probably puff up a little. They’re done when the dough is golden brown on the edges.

Put the stars on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, spread with some Nutella and dust with icing sugar.

Nutella pizza stars