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Christmas recipe: How to make gingerbread, by Fitzbillies of Cambridge

Fitzbillies, which has just opened its third Cambridge bakery/coffee shop in King’s Parade, share its recipe for gingerbread.

We always make gingerbread at Christmas. This year, our gingerbread is decorated with intricate icing stencils of Cambridge landmarks, including King’s College Chapel, the Bridge of Sighs, and our very own original shopfront.

Fitzbillies' Christmas gingerbread
Fitzbillies' Christmas gingerbread

At home, we suggest something simpler but just as effective: Christmas trees, gingerbread people, stars – whatever cutters you have! And you can’t go wrong with white icing and silver baubles.

A fun, festive activity for all generations!


170g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, softened

70g baking margarine, softened

200g golden syrup

400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ tbsp ground ginger

½ tsp mixed spice

For the decoration

250g or about ½ pack royal icing sugar (one that already includes powdered egg white, so that all you have to do is add water)


Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line as many baking trays as you happen to have with baking parchment.

Cream the caster sugar, butter and margarine together in a bowl until just combined and then beat in the golden syrup.

Fitzbillies' Christmas gingerbread
Fitzbillies' Christmas gingerbread

In another bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice, then stir into the creamed mixture to form a dough. Don’t overmix, otherwise the biscuits will be tough.

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 1 hour in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 6mm. Cut out gingerbread people, houses, stars or any shape of your choice. If you would like to use them as Christmas tree decorations, use the end of a drinking straw to cut a small hole, not too close to the edge, so that you can thread a ribbon through.

Place on the lined baking trays and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes. The biscuits will rise up and then collapse – at this stage they should be ready.

Remove from oven, leave them on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Once the biscuits are completely cool, you are ready to decorate. Make up the royal icing sugar according to the packet instructions. You will need an electric mixer or whisk for this.

Fit a piping bag with a No 2 straight writing nozzle and fill it with icing – don’t overfill it or it will all squirt out the back onto your hands (or use a plastic freezer bag with the corner cut off.)

Leave to set for a few moments before nibbling.

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