message for Christmas of 2009 :
For the first time this year, I decided to make gingerbread fellows, with a recipe as traditional as possible. I wanted them to implode with spices and to have the funniest shape I could master. The recipe that was the most attractive to me was the one in La cuisine des Fées, by Christine Ferber, and despite the fact tha the dough has to rest for an extremely long time, I must say they have nothing like those I have tasted before. The taste of spice blends perfectly with orange zest, and honey gives them a barely sticky texture that melts against the puck.
First hard once cooled, I chose to add a royal icing to make them pleasing to look on both sides and to add some texture to this traditional biscuit. I used them to decorate Eve's table, and as I had made one for each family member, they also served to mark-up. The dough was quite sticky, which made handling tedious, but led the entire process of composition to a style rather amusing and away from the cliche of these spicy men. In addition, it's a bit of a guessing game to find what trait was selected to represent each person.
|My cousin taking the pose with two Good-Fellows.|
Ingredients for a dozen Good-Fellows :
250g strong honey
200g wheat flour
50g rye flour (most often in organic shops)
3 tips of knife orange peel untreated
3 tips of knife lemon zest untreated
5g - a teaspoon - ground "spice bread" spices
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cardamom
5g of bicarbonate of soda
1 egg yolk
+ milk to glaze
for the royal icing:
1 egg white
1 teaspoon orange juice
300g icing sugar (or slightly more if the egg is large)
A week before, prepare the basic dough with honey and flour. Put the honey in a saucepan on lowest heat. When it becomes liquid, remove from heat.
In a bowl, prepare the two flours and pour honey inside. Mix with a wooden spatula. The dough quickly becomes very strong, it's quite surprising to see, but that's normal. Let cool and cover the dish with kitchen foil. Put it away for a week at room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into small pieces before you put it back. With your mixer fitted with hooks, not the whip, mix your dough by adding zest and baking soda dissolved in a teaspoon of warm water. Add spices and egg continuing to mix the robot. The dough will remain very strong. To facilitate the making of spicy fellows, place the dough in the fridge for a few hours.
Preheat oven to 170°C. Prepare a floured work surface and a ramekin with a little milk. If the dough seems hard enough to be spread with a rolling-pin, you can try this. If it seems too sticky, then make your characters directly on a sheet of parchment paper separating them several inches before landing on an oven tray. Brush them with a little milk and cook 8 minutes or until a nice golden color, then let them cool.
Prepare the royal icing. In a bowl, pour the egg white and orange juice. Add the icing sugar in three batches, whisking vigorously for one minute. The mixture will thicken a little like a cream or egg whites. Finish with a spatula so that the sugar is completely melted and apply the icing on the back of the fellows. This type of glaze takes 1 days to harden completely, but then it is particularly hard, which is very handy when they are transported in a box or in bags.
To keep them dry the best remains a sealed box, because otherwise they will soften in a few days.
To see more of these Good-Fellows, follow me here, on my Flickr page.