Friday 21 August 2009

Beaut bush buddies (gingerbread recipe)

I have been doing a little gift shopping lately and have not been able to resist a few presents for Sylvia and myself. One of these is a present that keeps on giving. It is a packet of Australian Animal Cookie Cutters (from the Botanic Gardens gift shop).The packet had six Aussie animals – koala, kookaburra, kangaroo, frill-necked lizard, platypus and echidna. It also had four recipes for biscuit (cookie) dough. One was for gingerbread with very little sugar and a lot of molasses. Unlike many of these cut-out recipes, it didn’t say I had to leave it in the fridge to firm up. Sounded good to me. I have always been wary of making cut out biscuits because they just seem too dull and hard. I am pleased to report that this gingerbread has changed my mind. They were easy to make. Just mix everything together. I used treacle rather than molasses because they are quite similar but treacle is a lot cheaper. I also added a little golden syrup when I ran out of treacle. All cutters worked well except the kangaroo one because it had the thin bits for the tale and feet which kept falling off. I was really pleased at how cute they looked.They were very soft to eat in the first couple of days but the next couple of days they were more dense and almost chewy just like good gingerbread I had bought in the shops. This recipe would also work well for gingerbread man and women. I put a few into E’s bag to take to work for his coffee breaks. He loved them although found them quite big.The other present I had bought myself recently was a koala and gum leaf plate. It is just the plate for my koala bickies. Which brings me to a point of contention between E and me. In Australia where we use biscuit rather than cookie, we shorten it to bicky. E said it was biccy. I thought it might be bikky but was worried it looked like bikie. So I compromised with spelling it bicky. I check the web and didn’t find any definitive information so I think we will both have to be right in this instance.As well as buying gifts to send overseas I have been planning to drop off a gift for our obstetrician who looked after us with Alex, Ian and Sylvia. I can’t speak highly enough of his sensitivity in a difficult time and the support he gave. He is incredibly busy but made an effort to be available to us and listen to what we were saying. We had bought some wine and biscuits but I wanted to make something to add to the bag. So I made some decadent wattleseed cashew truffles and also put in some of these bickies. They seem a little special.

I am a little nervous about how long the gingerbread will last. I probably should have done some experimenting with the recipe but I felt this would be too organised. But I will be making these for special occasions and gifts again because they look so impressive and are so easy to make.
I dropped off the giftpack this week and hope they are enjoyed. I have also included photos because I want to show just what a beautiful and happy baby Sylvia is. She is now blowing lots of raspberries at us and giggling. Yesterday she rolled over by herself for the first time and in the next week will start on her solids. She had her 6 month check today and is flourishing. She amused some of my work colleagues at lunch today, and the doctor’s receptionist commented on how good she was in my recent appointment. I know our obstetrician would love to see her and how happy she makes us. I am sure that is the greatest reward for his work.Now that I have entered the world of cut-out cookies, I am interested to try some other flavours so will list a few that I would like to try below. As well as my Australian cookie cutters, I would like to try some in my cookie press. I also want to try some with wattleseed. So stay tuned for more experiments!

Some cut-out cookies to try:
Gingerbread Bush Buddies
From the cookie cutters packet
Makes about 30
  • 125g softened butter
  • 2 and 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup treacle (or molasses)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp hot water
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Press together with your hands until it becomes a soft dough. Knead on a floured board about 30 seconds.

(Update 19/5/2010: made these again this week - put half the dough in the fridge for a couple of days and it was so easy to cut out shapes with the chilled dough - you don't need to chill this dough but for more complicated shapes I would advise it. This is also useful for making dough ahead of time or baking in smaller batches - I have kept it in the fridge wrapped in clingwrap for over a week.)

Use a rolling pin to roll out to 5mm thick. I halved the dough and did it in two batches because it seemed too much to handle all at once. Sprinkle surface with flour. Dip cookie cutters in flour and shake out so they are lightly covered. Cut cookie shapes and transfer to a greased or lined tray – I used a butter knife to slide under them so they didn’t stick to the board.

Bake at 160 C in a preheated oven for 15-17 minutes. The recipe says biscuits will be just starting to brown but it is a bit hard to see with gingerbread. They will smell cooked, still be soft to touch and have a bit of colour on the bottoms but mostly you have to go with gut feelings.

Cool on tray 5 minutes and then they are ready to eat. But if left a couple of days in an airtight container they get a little chewy just like gingerbread in the shops.

On the stereo:

Pet Shop Boys


  1. Awww those cookie cutters are adorable!! I want some!!!!!!!! And I definitely need to make this know...cause my iron levels are low and I need the iron in the molasses ;)

    It's so nice to hear about Sylvia growing up! I can't believe it's been 6 months since you said you'd had her already (Then again, I can't believe it's been 10 years since I had mine :P) It goes so fast!

    And just to throw another biscuit spelling into the mix, I never have a clue either but have always spelled it bikkie (which looks wrong now that I've typed it up here!)

  2. JOhanna, I cannot describe how incredible your Sylvia is. Love to read those motherhood moments of yours :).

    And the cookies are really cute!!!

  3. That is one cute hand Sylvia has.

    Yesterday, Belle and I made some animal cupcakes, and they were totally unrecognizable as animals (I will be posting the picts soon enough.) It made me realize I need some better animal shapers--yours are really cute.

  4. Those bush buddies are too cute to eat

  5. Your gingerbread biscuits are SO adorable!! I absolutely love the Australian Animal cookie cutters!! Toooo cute!! The recipe sounds incredible, too - I have often avoided cut-out recipes because of the chilling time required in the fridge, so these are perfect, just as your said!

    I am so delighted to hear the happy Sylvia stories... So magical! Thank you for sharing the beautiful stories with us! :-)

  6. Aww they are so cute. My mum used to give me mini versions of these when I was little (shop bought though).

  7. I don't know how I missed the wattleseed cashew turffles the first time, but will save the recipe and make them very soon. I think they will be a perfect potluck recipe!

  8. They're very cute indeed! Love how the cookie cutter have stamped expressions and details on them too.

  9. Thanks vegetation - they were an impulse purchase but a good impulse indeed - I can't believe she is 6 months either!

    Thanks anh - glad you enjoy hearing about the wee rascal!

    Thanks Maybelle's Mum - I am sure any shape will delight maybelle - that is the beauty of kids - will look forward to seeing the cupcakes

    Thanks Flower - they are a bit cute to eat - but so delicious (you remind me of the yogi bear add for yogi chocolates where he says start at the knees please!)

    Thanks Astra - glad you enjoy the stories and I am pleased to hear I am not the only one who can't be bothered with fridge chilling time

    Thanks Katie - we had store bought versions too - teddy bear biscuits were our faves esp when covered with chocolate (E said these bush buddies would be good with icing but I thought they would be excellent dipped in chocolate)

    Thanks Kristy - I am sure you would wow everyone at a potluck with these truffles - glad you have discovered them!

    Thanks Lorraine - I was pleased that the detail in the cutters came out in the biscuits - haven't used these sort of cookie cutters before but love them

  10. They are so gorgeous Johanna - I love the detail on them all, and the fact you can still see it really well after they've been baked. Gingerbread sounds like a really yummy flavour for cutout biscuits - more interesting than plain vanilla!

  11. Thanks C - this gingerbread definitely had great flavour

  12. Those are the cutest cookies ever! Love the koala bear. Your obstetrician sounds like a dream. Now I REALLY want to move to Australia! (Not that an obstetrician per se is needed, of course!);)

  13. Those cookies are so cute! It's nice that the details remained after baking. I love the idea of making cutout cookies but I hate rolling out dough so I've only made them a couple of times.

  14. How cute these cookies!!! I don't find here cookie cutter like those. WHat a pity! =(

  15. They're just gorgeous! I have a similar sort of cutter in the shape of a dalek but it's really hard to get the details without the mixture all getting stuck in the cutter. Yours must be higher quality! Molasses in a gingerbread biscuit is very appealing, too. And I'm with E on the'biccy' - must be the Brit way!

  16. Thanks Ricki - wish there were more people like him here

    Thanks Ashley - the detail makes them look professional so I was quite pleased

    Thanks Talita - shame you can't get those cookie cutters - I have seen other ideas which don't use cookie cutters which I want to try too - stay tuned

    Thanks Lysy - I want a dalek cookie cutter - that sounds fantastic - these cutters aren't anything special but I did find I needed to cover them in flour and shake them out well about every two cookies or it stuck - and if I didn't shake it out there were blobs of flour rather than dough


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