readingGilded (or not) Gingerbread Men

Gilded (or not) Gingerbread Men
Recipe - 15 November 2019


Gilded gingerbreads were made as early as Tudor times: from simple biscuits to huge, exotic, moulded affairs shaped as Kings and Queens with golden crowns. They were called fairings, and sold at country fairs all over England. By gilding your gingerbread men and offering them as a gift, you will be continuing one of our oldest traditions, which I think makes a very special (and extravagant) gift at Christmas.



20 minutes + chill time

Cook Time

8-10 minutes






  • 300g plain flour, plus more to dust
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 120g unsalted butter, in pieces
  • 140g treacle
  • 120g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 60g bag white royal icing no.1 nozzle
  • few sheets of pure edible gold leaf
  • 9cm gingerbread man cutter paintbrush


  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda and set aside. place the butter, treacle, sugar and vinegar in a heavy-based pan and bring to a rolling boil. Allow to cool to blood temperature, then tip in the dry ingredients and mix well, adding the egg as you do. Wrap in cling film and chill overnight (or at least for two hours) to firm up.
  2. Line two trays with baking parchment. On a lightly floured work top, roll out the dough to 3-4mm thick and cut out the gingerbread men using the cutter, as closely as you can. Place on the prepared trays and re-roll to use all the dough. At this point you can freeze the biscuits. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/ 375°C/ gas mark 5, then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes; they will darken. Leave to cool on the trays. They will harden and your kitchen will fill with a delicious aroma.
  3. Once cold, decorate the gingerbreads. I piped some and gilded others, the choice is yours. Using royal icing, pipe two eyes, a nose a mouth, then add patterns as you choose.
  4. To gild the gingerbread completely, lay a sheet of gold leaf over a gingerbread on the tray, smoothing gently with a paintbrush. To gild them partly, use the tip of a fine paintbrush to apply specks of gold leaf randomly over the gingerbread men.

This recipe is from Seasonal Baking which you can purchase here. Photography by Dan Jones.

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