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.


24 hours, 20 minutes

1 hour


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)


  1. In a small saucepan heat golden syrup and spices until well combined, roughly 3-4 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat transfer to a medium size mixing bowl and gradually beat in the butter.
  3. Beat together 2 eggs and sugar, add to the syrup and butter mixture.
  4. Add bicarb soda and flour, one cup at the time. Gradually add more flour if the dough is still sticky.
  5. Place the dough on kitchen counter and knead it until it becomes shiny (usually around 5-7 minutes).
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
  7. Hour before baking, take the dough out of the fridge to allow it to warm up.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line baking tray with baking paper.
  9. 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.
  10. Place the gingerbread on the baking tray. Whisk 2 eggs until well blended. Brush the eggwash on the cookies.
  11. Bake gingerbread in the oven for 8 minutes until golden brown.


  1. […] the wallet to attract money), white bread and salt (for blessing), beer, bacon buns (pīrāgi) and gingerbread. Table would not be cleared for the whole night so that prosperity continues in the new […]

  2. Bee
    December 19, 2018

    Thank you for this. This is my first Christmas in Latvia and I’m determined to make these myself and not get store bought. Will be a lovely activity together with my little daughter ❤ merry Christmas ❤

  3. Tamara
    November 29, 2020

    I made these cookies a few years back for the first time, to bring to my Christmas celebration with my Latvian ex-pat grandparents. They’d told me to bring nothing as “your presence is present enough”, but of course I had to bring something! So, I made traditional piparkukas using this recipe.

    The joy on my grandparents’ faces when they tried them is a memory that I cherish with all my heart, so I thank you so much for your blog. I truly appreciate all of the recipes you post.

  4. Georgs Kolesnikovs
    December 4, 2022

    Any ideas why Latvians call them piparkukas even though no pepper among ingredients?

    1. Liva
      December 4, 2022

      I have a couple theories why piparkūkas are named piparkūkas:
      1) The name most likely has come from German Pfefferkuchen which means “pepper cakes”.
      2) Allspice translates as “smaržīgie pipari” (“fragrant peppers”) or virces in Latvian.
      There are recipes out there that add black or white pepper, but I don’t feel like it is necessary – gingerbread from this recipe has enough spice.

    2. Sonja
      December 11, 2022

      It’s more of a general spice cookie. I’m Swedish and we have a similar thing with a similar name. Pepparkakor. I’m accustomed to putting white pepper in mine, and you’ll see black pepper sometimes too. But the pepper component is really small. I did a little googling and I saw as many Latvian ginger cookies that included pepper as didn’t. Why not add a little pepper to ‘spice it up’, if you will? Lol haha okay I’ll see myself out. Merry Merry merry Christmas! ❤️

  5. Georgs Kolesnikovs
    December 7, 2022

    Agreed about no need for pepper when so much spice going on. But didn’t know about allspice translation.

    Thanks for the quick response–and excellent site!

  6. Georgs Kolesnikovs
    December 8, 2022


    Mrs K does use white pepper. Our recipe is based on the recipe in Latvian Cooking, a cookbook published years ago by a group of ladies in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:
    1 cup corn syrup
    ½ cup molasses
    ¾ lb butter
    ¼ lb lard
    1 ¼ cup sugar
    7 cups flour
    2 egg yolks
    1 tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp baking soda
    ½ tsp white pepper
    2 tsp cardamom
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp cloves
    2 tsp coriander
    2 tsp ginger
    1 tsp allspice
    ½ tsp nutmeg
    ½ tsp mace (optional)
    1 egg for glazing
    Almonds for decorating (optional)

  7. Amālija
    December 15, 2022

    Hello! I am thinking of making gingerbread recipe kits to give as gifts to my family. If I were to make the spiced golden syrup ahead of time, would the flavor become too strong after a week or two? Do you think I should just keep the spices separate? I hope this makes sense haha..

    1. Liva
      December 15, 2022

      I think it is a lovely idea!
      I have not experimented with pre-mixing spices and syrup, so I cannot tell how it will behave if heated and up then cooled (I suspect it may get thicker). I would keep syrup and spice mix separate. It is a very cosy and warm feeling when syrup starts to warm up and all the scent of spices is released.

  8. Peter Henry Owen Murless
    July 31, 2023

    I have just been to Latvia. I was born in Durban. Ventspils reminds me of the Durban of my youth. It felt like I was coming home. I’m busy learning Latvian. But I digress… Latvian food …. on
    e course I missed was ryebread pudding. I’ll try that in Vents pils next summer. I really love the word rupjemaize. It sits so well in the mouth…


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