The Opinionated Baker

Not all of us are made of sugar and spice

Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

How to survive Christmas without going crazy.

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I can’t believe this but I’m actually quite relieved that Christmas is over. It was an awesomely happy Christmas, but the baking and the present making was really quite tiring. Whew. But then again, most of it was really my fault. This year with the whole month mostly free, I wanted to up the ante and do something awesome.

So instead of buying gifts for people who could probably afford anything they wanted… I made all my gifts. And instead of baking gingerbread men again as usual, I made little gingerbread houses for all my close friends.

Which leads me to the awesome main theme of today’s post.

The Opinionated Baker’s Guide to Surviving Christmas Baking Without Going Crazy.

1. Do your research

Get your recipe from a trusted source to ensure no failures. It’s tiring enough to bake for so many people, failed attempts will just make things worse. Better yet, use a recipe that you have at least made once and be sure that you will be able to make it in large quantities without killing yourself.

Likewise, if you’re baking gingerbread houses, get your templates ready, cut them out and flour them. I got mine from here and I shrank them by half. It also helps to read all the house assembling tutorials for ideas on decorations and assembling details. I found this tutorial pretty useful.

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Written by Musingsat

December 26, 2010 at 7:53 am

Posted in Christmas, Cookies, Craft, Ginger

Gingerbread Men and their miniature counterparts: The solution to sad days

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Recently, I have been plagued by sad thoughts. 😦 Nothing much is going well and I guess that is just typical of life. So I decided to bake silly clown gingerbread men! At the same time, I needed cookies for a special person’s special occasion, and gingerbread men were the likeliest choice to survive the journey north.

This gingerbread recipe has been in my arsenal for over 5 years, it is the longest surviving recipe DESPITE the huge effort needed to carry it out. Beware, this is NOT a recipe for the fainthearted/ for those working alone/  for those who are short of time. You definitely need help unless you have bulging  biceps of steel and thick calloused palms. I had help to watch over the cookies in the oven and to take the trays in and out. Without that help it would not have been a pretty sight. Brr. As it is, my arms are beginning to ache really badly from working the dough. However, what it takes out of you strength wise, it repays in full taste wise. 🙂

The photos this round are not very pretty because of the rush and effort involved in the baking. Didn’t have time to set up lighting and stuff. 😦

Ginger Cookies– makes alot alot alot of cookies, think 3 boxes worth. I have gotten almost 60 over cookies before.

Adapted from a book I borrowed from the library long long ago of which I have forgotten. If anybody recognizes it, please let me know.



1 tablespoon baking soda

1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cloves

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup dark corn syrup (I use light corn syrup because I can’t find dark. But it is not as pretty. 😦 )

½ cup heavy cream (I use thickened cream which is apparently the same thing)

1 large egg yolk

5 cups all-purpose flour

Royal Icing

1 small egg

1 tsp lemon juice

Food colouring

Icing sugar


  1. line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
  2. to make the cookies, in a small dish, stir together the baking soda, the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  3. In a medium-size saucepan, place the granulated sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (this is very impt if you don’t want sugar granules in your biscuit). Pour the mixture into the large bowl of an electric mixer.
  4. With the mixer at medium speed, slowly beat in the cream until it is blended. Add the spice mixture and the egg yolk and beat until they are well blended. (My stuff always splatters at this point so be careful and lay newspaper if you’re worried about a mess.) (look at the size difference of my eggs! 🙂 Large eggs and small eggs!)
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add 4 cups of the flour, one cup at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of flour by hand until a fairly firm smooth dough has formed. (Halfway through, I usually switch to another mixer head and then switch to hand kneading. We had electric mixers burn out before because the dough was too thick and stiff.)
  6. Shape the dough into an 11 by 8 in inch rectangle on the lined baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Clean up the wreckage that you have wrought quickly and get a good nights sleep because day two is going to be tough tough tough.)
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to start baking. The dough needs to be at room temperature for the easiest handling. (Yes! This is very important, I keep forgetting and regretting horribly.)
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line several baking sheets with  parchment paper
  9. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough on a floured surface (TIP: Roll it sandwiched between baking paper instead. Trust me, it is SO MUCH easier to handle the sticky dough with and it will save you alot of heartache and stress) into a 16 by 12 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies with a lightly floured cutter. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets spacing them about 1 inch apart.
  10. Bake the cookies for 5 to 8 minutes, until they are puffed. (they will settle as they cool). (TIP: Don’t listen to this point. They will puff, then they will deflate, then they will change colour and brown along the edges. After this happens, then you take them out. Otherwise they’d be floppy and will get soft too quickly after frosting) Cool them slightly on the baking sheets (so that the cookies don’t break) before transferring the cookies to racks to cool completely.
  11. Try not to let them fight too much, naughty politically incorrect gingerbread men. Tsktsk.

  12. To make the icing, in a small bowl, beat the egg white and lemon juice until frothy. Mix in icing sugar until you get the consistency you desire.
  13. Decorate all the cookies with the icing! Have fun! Try and put the cookies in an air tight container as soon as you’re done as they get soft quickly. (The garish colours are no fault of my dslr, but the fault of the colouring so aptly named “Cherry red” ack.

Written by Musingsat

May 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Christmas, Cookies, Ginger