What is more Christmassy than gingerbread? The smell of gingerbread wafting through the house on Christmas eve is almost a right of passage into Christmas day. That sweet, warm, spiced ginger smell is Christmas encapsulated!
These gingerbread napkin holders were an idea I used last year at Christmas time and they were a complete success. I made so many little gingerbread stars I had enough for every gathering I held or went to and they’ve been highly anticipated again this year, I’m told.
Gingerbread has a very ancient history. In 992 CE, an Armenian Monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, left Greece to live in France where he stayed for 7 years teaching the art of gingerbread making. Gingerbread then spread across Europe. German immigrants took gingerbread to Sweden in the 13th century, and Swedish nuns would bake gingerbread to ease indigestion and painted them white to hang as window decorations. Gingerbread recipes eventually spread to England in the 17th century and Queen Elizabeth would serve them to visiting dignitaries to showcase the latest spices from around the world.
Fast forward to now, and gingerbread is still baked in more or less the same way today, usually around Christmas time.
There aren’t many gingerbread recipes out there that totally satisfy my ginger appetite, so these do not hold back on the spice! I should warn you, these gingerbread stars are extremely moreish, so some may not make it to the table. I have been making gingerbread for many years, and this is a tweaked recipe I use every time for the perfect, mouth-meltingly warming gingerbread.
To make around 40-50 10×10 cm stars, you’ll need:
- 350g plain flour, and then some more for dusting
- 4 tsp of ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
- 125g of cold butter, cut into cubes
- 175g dark muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp of black treacle or molasses
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 20 x 20cm Christmassy ribbons
- Preheat an oven to 150 degrees, line 2 large baking sheets with some grease-proof paper, and put the dry ingredients – the flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, sugar in and whizz for a few seconds until the lumps in the sugar have gone.
- Add in the butter and blend it all together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Now for the wet ingredients: crack the egg into a bowl with the treacle and golden syrup and whisk it all well. Then add it to the breadcrumb mixture you’ve just made and whizz it all together until it forms a ball of dough.
- Cut the dough in half and save one half in the freezer (unless you have 40 guests). Roll the dough out to the thickness of a pound coin, and with a star cutter, cut as many stars as you can, and re-roll the scraps out 3 times (I did this until I had no dough left, but be careful not to overwork the dough as it’ll go tough) and put them nice and spaced out on the baking sheets.
- Then poke two holes for the ribbons with a cocktail stick – a little bigger than you need.
- Bake them on the baking sheets (10 per sheet) for 10-13 minutes, careful not to let them burn as they’ll be lovely and dark.
- Whilst they’re still warm, gently re-poke the holes. Store them until you want to use them, and then when you do, hold the back of the biscuit towards you and thread the ribbon through one hole to the front and back through the other, and tie them around each napkin. You can write the names of your guests on each biscuit if you like or you can keep them plain with a piece of rosemary or pine through each.
Don’t forget to save this recipe for later on your Pinterest board: