Christmas in Latvia cannot be imagined without baking tray upon tray of gingerbread (piparkūkas). It is a national pastime in the days leading up to Christmas – store-bought gingerbread just won’t do. However, most will be happy to use store-bought gingerbread dough and every self-respecting bakery and supermarket will have it for sale. The biggest discussion around this time is what dough to buy as some will give you crunchy and crisp cookies, while others will lead to a softer and puffier outcome.
My family was no exception – I can remember a whole day was spent in the kitchen rolling the dough and cutting out cookie shapes. It is a tradition that I have kept for my kids, who, just like me 20+ years ago, are losing patience to roll and cut just two trays in. These days, I find it quite therapeutic and always end up with more gingerbread than I can eat.
This recipe for slightly soft, nicely spiced cookies was shared by the Latvian society in Sydney. If you prefer softer gingerbread, roll the dough thicker and adjust the baking time accordingly. If gingerbread is still not soft enough for your liking, try putting the cookies in a container along with half an apple – it will soften them even further.
This amount of dough will make around 120 gingerbread cookies. The dough can be kept in the fridge for couple weeks. The longer it is kept, the stronger the flavour of gingerbread. 1kg bag of flour is sufficient for this recipe.
- 1 cup golden syrup
- 1 tbs ground cinnamon
- 1 tbs ground cloves
- 1 tbs ground ginger
- 1 tbs ground cardamon
- 1/2 tbs allspice
- 250g butter
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 5 1/2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling)
- In a small saucepan heat golden syrup and spices until well combined, roughly 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat transfer to a medium size mixing bowl and gradually beat in the butter.
- Beat together 2 eggs and sugar, add to the syrup and butter mixture.
- Add bicarb soda and flour, one cup at the time. Gradually add more flour if the dough is still sticky.
- Place the dough on kitchen counter and knead it until it becomes shiny (usually around 5-7 minutes).
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- Hour before baking, take the dough out of the fridge to allow it to warm up.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line baking tray with baking paper.
- Work with quarter of the dough at a time. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface, roll the dough 5mm thick and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
- Place the gingerbread on the baking tray. Whisk 2 eggs until well blended. Brush the eggwash on the cookies.
- Bake gingerbread in the oven for 8 minutes until golden brown.