Thursday, December 6, 2012

St.Nicholas Day and Gingerbread

      St. Nicholas- patron Saint of sailors, protector of children and the origin story of Santa. St. Nicholas was actually the Bishop of Myra who was known through out the land as a generous and helping soul- the stories are numerous and often fantastical- all with the key element of giving and service at their core. Widely celebrated through out much of Europe St. Nicholas day is December 6- on the evening of December 5th children put their boot or shoe outside of their door with hopes that in the morning they will rise to find a small gift or treat from St. Nicholas. The idea being that simple gift giving early in the advant will help preserve Christmas day and keep it free of excess.

   To help our Littles along with the idea of giving and service we baked gingerbread cookies to give away tomorrow- they had a bit of help with the mixer and oven- but essentially did everything themselves. This is what I would call a no fail recipe and of course as long as everything is set up for the Littles they will succeed- I like to stand back and assist only when asked.

Warning: many gingerbread men and women were harmed and eaten during the production of this post.

In My Kitchen

Basic Gingerbread

The Goods:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup unsalted butter- cold and diced
1 scant cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp golden corn syrup

The Deal:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees- place parchment on two large cookie sheets

Put flour, baking soda and chilled, diced butter in the mixer- process until mixture looks like fine bread crumbs

Add egg, sugar and corn syrup- process until the mixture forms a ball

   Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth and pliable

 Cut the ball of dough in half and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper

Cut cookie figures out with cutters and transfer to parchment lined cookie sheet- re roll out and trimmings and continue until dough is all gone.

Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly coloured around edges- Cool for about 5 minutes before transfering to wire rack

 Obviously the final step is to decorate your gingerbread peeps- we used just a super basic icing made of icing sugar, butter and a dribble of water- this does not need to be fancy icing as it is just the glue that holds candies in place. You can also use melted chocolate which is tasty as well- white or milk chocolate works well!

   If any of these cookies last we will take them around to our neighbours tomorrow afternoon once school gets out before we settle down to enjoy a special St. Nicholas feast. My Mr. is German and he grew up with the custom of advant and St.Nicholas day- wishing to preserve and encourage that part of their heritage we are continuing on with the tradition - tonight the Littles will put their boots out by their door. We parents have the fun of sneaking goodies such as oranges, foil wrapped coins and small gifts while we know excited little ones slumber near by- harnessing the spirit of St. Nicholas helps us all be a kid again!


  1. I love it! In the recipe though, is it molasses or corn syrup? What makes them so dark? Not just the brown sugar?

  2. Yes- just the brown sugar! The darker the brown sugar the browner the cookies.


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