It’s Advent and this means so many things. Firstly it means Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band and my Latin Christmas album, “Feliz Navidad”. But it also means it’s time to get going with all those wonderful Christmas bakes and that always starts on the 1st December with gingerbread dough that I can leave in the fridge overnight so that I can make Lebkuchen. Those delicious soft gingerbread hearts with apricot jam n the centre and coated in a white icing glaze. This year with the new plant based diet I was looking forward to recreating these German treats without any eggs. Would a egg replacement work in the dough? Yeah of course it does. So I have made these as plant based but to make them vegan just replace the honey with golden syrup. I do my glazer with lime juice but last year I managed to get hold of fresh bergamots which added a really wonderful aroma and bitter edge to contrast the sweet molasses dough.
This wonderful dough can also be used to make gingerbread houses. Just plan out your house panels like a flat pack and cut the rolled dough to shape. It Is essential that you roll them a little thicker for constructing houses. For this blog and because I like to gift the first batch to friends and neighbours I have made double the dough. I’ve started to meet and chat with many new wonderful people since I moved and started my depression confessions and so today I cycled out armed with oven fresh, glittery hearts to share.
1 egg equivalent
150g soft dark brown or molasses sugar
200g honey or golden syrup
200g black treacle
435g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
30g cocoa powder
Apricot or Damson Jam
1 egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
190g sifted icing sugar
Edible glitter spray
In a small bowl whisk the egg replacement until it begins to thicken and stiffen. If you cannot buy an egg replacement then use half a teaspoon each of potato starch and tapioca starch with two tablespoons of water.
Transfer to a large bowl and add the brown sugar and honey and beat until smooth. Stir in the black treacle. I know treacle makes a stick mess but if you just let it get all down the tin and then seal with the lid it is easy to wash it off under a running hot tap.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice and then stir into the molasses mixture.
Cover or wrap dough, and chill overnight. It will soften and become shiny while it rests overnight.
Grease baking sheets. On a work surface floured with icing sugar, roll small amounts of the dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into hearts. This dough is very sticky and you will need to keep moving the dough and dusting with more icing sugar. This is why it is better to use small pieces.
Use a spatula knife to keep the dough from sticking hard and tearing as you keep dusting the work surface.
Keep the hearts quite close together but remember that they will grow a little.
Once you have filled the sheets with the hearts spoon a small dollop of jam onto each heart. Traditionally it is apricot jam but I adore using homemade damson jam but I haven’t been lucky enough to get my mitts on any damsons for the last two years!
Now begin rolling out the remaining dough to create the lids. Cover with the second hearts and gently press together. I don’t preheat the oven until I’m pressing the lids on. 180C for fan ovens. 350F or gas mark 4.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. They will look lighter once cooked but they will still feel soft to the touch.
While they are baking mix up the second egg replacement and then add the lime zest, juice and icing sugar to make the glaze. This glaze has to be painted on as soon as the baked gingerbread hearts come out of the oven. Generously brush the cookies with the glaze. I do this twice.
For an extra festive touch spray with a sheen of gold or silver edible cake decoration. This year I chose silver glitter and they look beautifully frosty.
They improve with age if you can resist eating them all immediately. I can’t resist eating then all as soon as the glaze has hardened. What a plant based pig I am.