Gingerbread & Royal Icing

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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013

  • Who: Ms Shira Chan, 42, housewife

    Christmas is the time of year when Ms Chan and her family come together to decorate cakes and cookies as gifts for their loved ones. She and her four daughters, Shanice, 10, Shanae, eight, Shannea, seven, and Shanelle, four, decorate spiced orange cookies and gingerbread that have been cut into shapes ranging from stars and angels to Christmas trees and snowmen. Ms Chan's husband, Mr Kwok Siu Hong, 45, works for a shipping company.

    Her gingerbread recipe has been modified and tweaked since she began baking in 2005. For example, she has cut down the amount of sugar and instead of adding just golden syrup, she uses a combination of honey and maple and golden syrups.

    The cakes and cookies are usually given to friends, family, members of their church and teachers.

    The self-taught baker and former sales administrator, who became a stay-at-home mother six years ago, says: "Baking and decorating with my daughters is a good time for us to bond. Also, making things ourselves gives the present a personal touch."

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  • Gingerbread
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 70g brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 30g honey
  • 50g maple syrup
  • 70g golden syrup
  • 480g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white (58g egg)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 to 2 drops of lemon or orange juice, or vanilla essence, for flavour
  • A drop of food colouring if desired
  • Gingerbread
  • 1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and salt with a whisk until it is smooth and fluffy. If the butter is still hard, you can cut it into small cubes and use a wooden spoon to cream it with the sugar and salt.
  • 2. Add the egg and beat the mixture until well combined.
  • 3. Add honey, maple syrup and golden syrup and mix well.
  • 4. Sift in the flour, ground ginger and cinnamon, baking soda and ground pepper in two batches.
  • 5. Mix until it comes together and forms a dough. You may need to use your hands about midway through this process to knead it, but be sure not to overwork it. Once a consistent dough has been achieved, cover the bowl with clingwrap, or its silicon lid if the bowl has one. Leave it to rest for 15 to 30 minutes. It does not need to be refrigerated and can be left at room temperature.
  • 6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 deg C and line a baking tray with parchment or baking paper.
  • 7. Once the dough is ready, place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is about 5mm thick. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes. Any leftover dough can be rolled out again to make more biscuits.
  • 8. Lay the biscuits onto the tray and bake on the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown. Leave to cool on wire racks.
  • Royal Icing
  • 1. Whisk the egg white until it is bubbly and foamy, then add the icing sugar and continue to whisk until it is thick and well combined. It should be fairly viscous and have the consistency of slightly watered-down toothpaste.
  • 2. Put into piping bags and attach desired piping tips or nozzles. Decorate cooled gingerbread as desired. If you do not have piping bags and nozzles, you can use a resealable plastic bag and snip the bottom.
  • Note: If you are adding flavours and food colouring, you may want to add more icing to achieve a desired consistency
  • Cookie cutters and piping bags are available at baking supply stores such as Phoon Huat, ToTT and Bake King.
  • For those just starting out, Ms Chan suggests going to Daiso to pick up cutters and piping nozzles.