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Christmas Recipe: Gingerbread Men

December 19, 2023 12:39 IST
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Gingerbread men

Photograph: Kind courtesy: Senior US Air Force Airman Elisa Labbe/Wikimedia Commons

When my daughters were small, no Christmas could go by without making Gingerbread Men cookies a few days before. The girls would participate wholeheartedly and zealously in the process, tickled with this Yuletide task.

We would make them in three sizes, including wee little boys, and decorate them with raisins, currants and tiny chopped pieces of cherries and dried green papaya peel. Decoration was, of course, the most thrilling part -- not that rolling them wasn't; little girls masterfully struggling with giant rolling pins as large as them -- and sometimes their friends would join.

Gingerbread men

Photograph: Kind courtesy: Orsotron/Wikimedia Commons

Since my younger daughter has her birthday in December, I would often include gingerbread men making as an activity at her birthday parties. And the kids loved this pastime, competing to make the prettiest dudes, and the waiting around, their excitement hardly contained, for the final product to emerge from the oven, as the fragrance of ginger and cinnamon hijacked the home.

Homemade gingerbread men taste far better than anything you can buy outside. And the process is the winning part.


We always baked and made a number of things together during the Christmas season like fudge, cereal snaps, Christmas cake, a gingerbread house, that was far more tricky and sometimes collapsed like a house of cards but could always be repaired. These rounds of baking were what made the loveliest Christmas memories.

Gingerbread men

Photograph: Kind courtesy: GutMaze/Wikimedia Commons

Gingerbread Men

Servings: 45-50


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1½ cups sugar + a little extra sugar for sprinkling
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ tbsp chopped orange peel
  • 2 tbsp dark corn syrup, or else golden syrup, available online
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3 ½ cups maida or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch jaiphal or nutmeg powder
  • 2 tsp dalcheeni or cinnamon
  • 1 tsp saunth or ginger powder
  • ½ tsp ground lavang or cloves
  • Gingerbread cookie cutters, if possible in three sizes

For decorating

  • Chopped raisins
  • Currants
  • Finely chopped cherries
  • Finely chopped green papaya peel
  • White, green, red decorating icing, optional (available online)
  • Sprinkles, optional
  • M&Ms/Gems, tiny jelly beans, optional 

Gingerbread making

IMAGE: My younger daughter making gingerbread men with Rita and Philo.Photograph: Zelda Pande


  • In a bowl, mix the butter with the sugar.
    Add the egg.
    Beat till well mixed and fluffed up.
    Add the orange peel, dark corn syrup, water.
  • In another large bowl, separately, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon powder, ginger powder, nutmeg powder, cloves powder.
  • Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture and make into a firm dough.
    Chill in the fridge for 4-5 hours.
  • Roll all the dough out, in two batches, till each large disc of dough is 1 1/8 inches thick.
    Sprinkle dough with a sugar and roll a little more.
    Cut out the men using the cutters.
    Decorate with the raisins, currants, papaya peel, cherries and more.
  • Bake at 200 °C for about 12 minutes, rotating the tray in between.
    Cool and store in an airtight container.

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