The Tim Horton’s chain calls them Seasonal Figures. The Gingerbread Man, neutered for the 21st Century. At Zellers you can buy gingerbread women cutouts, little tin shapes differing from their traditional male counterparts only by the above-the-knee dress. Which cookies you bake may say a lot about who wears the pants in your house.
My reaction to outrage at seeing individual seasonal figures for sale at up to $4 each led me to attempt to bake gingerbread folks in quantity at home. What could be more fun for a dad and son to do on a Sunday before Christmas? Turns out, lots of things. Here are some tips for those of you are inspired by this religious season to resurrect the traditional gingerbread man in your oven:
- Crush the cloves well, so your ‘men don’t end up looking like they’ve got late-onset melanoma.
- Roll ’em thin. The dough triples in thickness during cooking, so thick-cut dough figures will come out of the oven looking like cellulite nightmare men in Speedos.
- Roll the dough only once. Repeat rollings with trimmings from other cookies may result in unsightly oven amputations that could scar children’s psyches.
- Place raisins and other treats firmly when adding for buttons and eyes. Lightly placed eyes tend to move during baking, resulting in freakish elephant-man look.
- When mixing icing for decorating, go easy on the food colour. There’s a reason why concentrated colours come in small volumes. It took a whole bag of icing sugar to make my “sky blue” lose its distinctive blackness. If you need some icing, please call me. I have about a litre in my ‘fridge.
We may not fetch $4 for our gingerbread folks, but it was fun. Jasper has eaten quite a few of them already, despite their globby-elephantine freakishness. And that’s all that matters, really. That said, you may never want to eat coloured icing again once you learn how long it takes to get food colouring dyes off a toddler’s hands.