Jumbo Gingerbread Folk

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

Gingerbread, in any form, makes me genuinely happy. And nostalgic. And as much as I get tempted to create weird and wonderful gingerbread confections, in my heart I feel compelled to embrace the utmost in tradition and go with the classic holiday cookie: the gingerbread man . . . or woman. Heck, let us just call them gingerbread folk. Timeless, tasty and so darn cute.

What I love about vintage gingerbread folk is that they are actually sort of girly and boyish all at once. My inspiration for these cookies (not that the holidays alone aren’t enough gingerbread inspiration) came from this adorable little guy whom I spotted on Pinterest awhile back (originally from here). I just can’t get enough of him. So my cakelets and I created some classic gingerbread folk, but rather than create a whole village of small ones, we decided to do something different and create a jumbo version . . .

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

Cakelet approved! As I sat down to source a jumbo cutter, I remember when we created the Little Hands Sugar Cookies last year, we simply made a template out of cardstock and then I cut the dough using an x-acto-style knife. It worked so well, that I figured we could do the same with the mega gingerbread man. (That being said, you could do that with any shape you like.) So we made ours about 8″ x 11″, which was perfect for printing the template straight from the computer.

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

The dough itself is my go-to gingerbread recipe, and dare I call this my Perfect Gingerbread Cookie recipe. It’s spicy, dark and rolls like a dream. It bakes up with a slight crisp around the edge, but the remainder of the cookie is semi-soft. (If you over-bake they will be dry and crispy). I use cooking molasses, which is a very robust molasses (not as robust as blackstrap, but a mix of fancy and blackstrap). It also makes for handsomely dark gingerbread men, but if you’re not into strong molasses flavour, you can always use any molasses you like. I should mention that, I’ve tried many-a-gingerbread-dough, and this recipe is a hybrid of what I liked about each one. If you chill, chill, chill the cookies will keep their shape nicely, but (unlike sugar cookies) they will expand a tad.

With a quick snip of the shape from the cardstock, you can then cut around the template, pop it onto your baking sheet (1 per sheet in this case), chill and bake. Since they’re so big (the recipe makes 7 total), hand-cutting isn’t really that tedious. I’ve included the template I used, but honestly you could even draw your own if you prefer a slightly different shape. You can even have your kids draw their own and you can cut out and bake their own version. Either way, this is such a fun project for kids (big and small).

Our cakelets loved this and it kept them busy for the longest time (yes!). I used two resealable plastic bags for royal icing then filled some cupcake liners with an array of chocolate chips, dragees, sprinkles, candy canes, jelly dots, and more and let them do their thing.

Before they started, I printed a bunch of the templates for the girls to colour, just for fun and to possibly design their cookies. Reese opted for a super-classic and conservative design, and followed her paper design to a tee.

Neve opted to ditch the design and went balls-to-the-wall topping-happy with her cookie. We all had a giggle about this, and thought –with all of that candy piled on there–her cookie won the prize for the most delightful and delicious looking. ♥

Happy Jumbo Gingerbread Folk!

Just when I thought our cookies were jumbo, I came across this cutter decoration last night while at my local HomeSense. I almost died. My heart literally skipped a beat! That would have been the best $49.99, I’d ever spent. Sadly it would never fit in my car.

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

For now, we’ll stick with the not-as-jumbo version. I kept my decorations pretty simple: royal icing swirls/eyes/mouths, jelly dot buttons and cheeks and candy heart noses. ♥

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie

Yield: 7 jumbo gingerbread folk (8" x 11")

A dark, robust and spicy gingerbread cookie with a slightly crispy edge and semi-soft center. This cookie dough rolls like a dream and is ideal for cutting gingerbread folk, or any other desired shape.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups (910 g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons (12 g) cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons (12 g) ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (11 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (235 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1-1/2 cups (355 ml) cooking molasses*
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between additions. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Dough should be soft (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour until desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Remove 1/2 of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of lightly floured parchment or wax paper (I use a silicone rolling mat underneath to ensure it doesn't slip while rolling, but you can even dampen counter so the parchment sticks a bit.), then place two 1/4" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) so it's flush with dowels--they will ensure that your dough is even thickness.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or freezer for 15 minutes (or more).
  8. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters or template of choice, placing them on a baker's half sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment), with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet. Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 7 minutes, tap tray on counter, and return to oven, rotating tray. Bake until edges just start to brown, about 6 more minutes. Be careful not to over-bake, or cookies will be dry.
  9. Cool sheets on wire racks for 20 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling. If cookies are too fragile, you can cool completely on trays.

Notes

*Use cooking molasses for a more dark and robust gingerbread cookie, or if you prefer a lighter tasting gingerbread, use fancy/unsulphured molasses.

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Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • 3-3/4 cups (454 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons (20 g) meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (90 ml) water, plus more for thinning
  • Flavouring/extract to taste (nothing oil-based) such as, almond extract, rosewater, vanilla extract (clear if you want the icing to remain very white), etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Use a paper towel to wipe the bowl of an electric mixer and a rubber spatula with a few drops of lemon juice. Add all of the ingredients into the bowl and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.
  2. Mix ingredients on low-speed for 12 minutes.
  3. Add very small increments (1 teaspoon at a time) of water until desired piping consistency is achieved.
  4. Keep royal icing covered with plastic wrap at all times. Can be stored covered with a damp cloth and plate (same diameter as top of bowl) on top in bowl in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Here’s the Jumbo Gingerbread Man template. Simply print this onto standard 8.5″ x 11″ thick white paper (I used a basic card-stock) and then cut around the outline. This is also a great template to print for kids to colour. I found this template on a teacher’s resource site, where you can find countless other ideas.
  • Removing the large cookies from the baking sheet can be tricky, so I use this (and for all of my cakes): Wilton Cake and Cookie Lifter.
  • For tips and photos on rolling dough, you can check out a past post, Steps to Making the Perfect Sugar Cookie {and Cookie Pop}.
  • For piping the eyes, mouth and swirls, I used royal icing in a small piping bag fitted with a plain round #3 tip.
  • I secured the jelly dots and hearts with a dab of royal icing.

Good luck & enjoy!

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