Old-fashioned gingerbread cookies are packed with all the flavours and textures of traditional gingerbread cake but in a soft delicious portable water iced cookie.
These vegan cookies are similar to the traditional favourite German Christmas cookies Lebkuchen and are perfect for baking over the festive season.
Gingerbread cookies would make a delicious and cute gift popped into a gift box or jar and adorned with a festive ribbon or bow.
Gingerbread cookies are simply a homely Christmas in tasty biscuit form!
These wee tasty vegan home-baked gingerbread cookies are so good that no one will guess they are not prepared with butter, eggs or dairy! Each gingery bite is packed with the festive spirit of tastiness, love and nostalgia.
What are gingerbread cookies?
Gingerbread cookies are simply gingerbread cake in cookie form as they share the same flavours of sweet golden syrup and spiced ginger. Gingerbread cookies have a soft and crisp outer edge and deliciously softer insides, and are similar to German Christmas cookies or Lebkuchen.
Gingerbread has a long extensive history that dates back to at least the medieval ages were the gingerbread was more like a big slab that was prepared with honey, breadcrumbs, and spices. The gingerbread slabs were decorated with box leaves and studded with cloves. Although some gingerbread may not have actually contained ginger spice, while others were sweetened or thickened with parsnips!
The first gingerbreads were not actually eaten as part of a dessert or pudding, rather they were included along with the meal or eaten between courses, and it was mainly rich folk who could afford the luxury of gingerbread.
By the 1700s black treacle or molasses was used to sweeten gingerbread and flour was commonly added instead of breadcrumbs. Eggs were also being added which would have given the gingerbread a lift during baking creating a less dense bake.
During the Victorian era gingerbread was being decorated with icing, as well as moulded or cut-out into different shapes, characters and scenes. One Christmas, Queen Victoria presented her King Charles spaniel dog Dash the gift of two pieces of gingerbread, while her German husband Prince Albert dressed up as Saint Nicholas and gifted their children pieces of gingerbread as a reward for being good that year. It was during these times that gingerbread began to be associated with the festivities of Christmas time.
Next came the English fairs which sold gingerbread moulded into shapes, much like the gingerbread men of today, and these sweet biscuits were regarded as a great treat.
Nowadays, we have gingerbread houses, and gingerbread men as well as gingerbread cakes and loafs, and ginger cookies or biscuits, all equally delicious.
Also there are now special gingerbread days such as National Gingerbread House Day held this year on December the 12th 2022 and National Gingerbread Day held next year on June 5th 2023.
How to prepare vegan old-fashioned gingerbread cookies
Preparing these wee gingerbread cookies is really easy.
The liquid ingredients are melted before being stirred through the dry ingredients, and mixed by hand to a cookie dough.
That's it, no chilling of the dough is required before a quick 8-10 minutes bake.
Quick and easy gingerbread cookies in minutes. Although taking the extra time to ice the cookies is strongly recommended.
First melt the margarine, golden syrup, and dark brown sugar in a small saucepan.
Next sift the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, and ginger powder into a mixing bowl. Stir through the salt.
Pour the melted margarine mix into the dry ingredients and stir until it all comes together into a cookie dough.
Scoop up heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture and using the palms of your hands roll the dough into a smooth ball.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Prepare the water icing by sifting the icing [powdered sugar] into a small bowl and stirring through a few teaspoons of water.
Dip the tops of each cookie into the icing and leave on a wire rack or board to set.
Optional: pop a small piece of crystalized or candied ginger on to each iced cookie.
The icing will take a few hours to set if the room temperature is not too hot. Alternatively to speed up the icing setting, pop the cookies into the refrigerator just until the icing has set. Although I must confess we did munch a few cookies before the icing had a chance to set!
Iced gingerbread cookies will keep for at least 4-5 days, perhaps a few days more if stored somewhere cool and dry. Un-iced cookies can be stored longer.
Store within a cookie tin or cookie jar. Wrap in parchment paper and kitchen foil if storing in a plastic food container or similar tub.
The cookies can also be wrapped if storing in a cookie tin/tub and this will keep them fresher for longer.
Un-decorated cookies can be frozen for 3-4 months, well wrapped.
This recipe for gingerbread cookies is not gluten-free but the flour can be replaced with a gluten-free plain flour blend such as Freee Gluten-Free Plain Flour [Doves Farm] or if your in the UK try Asda's Free From Plain Flour which is a cheaper option.
Also add in a ¼ teaspoon of xantham gum to the flour as this will help stick the cookies together, as some gluten-free bakes can have a tendency to be crumbly and fall apart.
As for bicarbonate of soda [baking soda] this ingredient is naturally gluten-free.
However, I have not tested this recipe as gluten-free but can not see a reason why it wouldn't work. I will be testing this recipe with gluten-free flour and will update this question ASAP. Do let me know if you try and how you got on in the comments below. Thanks so much x
If you are outwith the UK and find sourcing golden syrup difficult or too expensive then light molasses is a good swap, as it is lighter and not as strongly flavoured compared with darker types of molasses.
Crystalized ginger is simply pieces of fresh ginger that have been boiled in a sugar syrup before being dried and coated in more sugar.
It is also known as candied ginger, and is quite fiery in taste but this is mitigated with the sugar so the overall flavour is quite delicious.
If your in the UK, have a look in Home Bargains or Poundland for some crystalized ginger. Tesco supermarket also sell Whitworth's Crystalized ginger and it can also be purchased online at poundshop.com for £1 [price at time of writing]. A bag lasts a long time if kept in an air-tight container or tightly sealed once opened, so it can be used for many more tasty future recipes.
More festive traditional vegan treats
Traditional British Parkin Biscuits [crunchy cookies]
[not actually coffee flavoured but intended to be enjoyed along with a coffee! This delicious cake features a crisp cinnamon buttery streusel topping and is ideal for extra special breakfasts and brunches]
Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies
- baking tray/cookie sheet
- parchment paper
- Small saucepan
- Mixing bowls
- 185 grams plain flour [all-purpose flour]
- ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
- 50 grams dark brown sugar [or light soft brown sugar]
- 80 grams vegan margarine [such as Stork]
- 100 grams golden syrup [or replace with light molasses]
- 4 teaspoons dried ginger
- 1 pinch salt
- 125 grams icing sugar [powdered sugar]
- 3 tablespoon crystalized ginger [candied ginger] [optional] chopped into 19 small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180C / Fahrenheit 356 / Gas 4.Line the baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the margarine, golden syrup and sugar into a small saucepan. Gently heat, stirring frequently, until everything is melted and combined.80 grams vegan margarine, 100 grams golden syrup, 50 grams dark brown sugar
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a mixing bowl. Stir through the salt.185 grams plain flour, ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 4 teaspoons dried ginger, 1 pinch salt
- Pour the melted mixture into the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the pot so that all the mixture is removed.
- Mix everything together, bringing it all into a cookie dough ball.
- Using a teaspoon, pick up heaped teaspoonfuls and roll the dough into ball shapes. Place the balls on to the baking tray leaving at least an inch or few cm's between each cookie.[each cookie will weigh about 20-22 grams each]
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch although don't press too hard as they will still be soft inside.My cookies were baked at 10 minutes using an electric oven at 180C. Check fan ovens a few minutes earlier as these tend to bake a few minutes faster.
- After 5 minutes cooling on the baking tray remove and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Stir through 4 teaspoons of water to make a smooth runny paste. Although not too runny as it needs to easily coat the cookie without completely running down the sides.Add an extra few drops of water if the water icing is too thick. I used just under 5 teaspoons of water. [If the icing becomes too runny simply stir a few more teaspoons of icing sugar through until its thickened]125 grams icing sugar
- Dip the top of each cookie into the water icing and move it around to ensure its evenly coated. [or use a teaspoon and dollop some icing over the top of the cookie and carefully spread it to the sides.Place each iced cookie back onto the wire rack so that any icing that runs down the sides can drip away from the cookie. Alternatively just set the cookies on parchment paper.
- Optional: Add a small piece of chopped crystalized or candied ginger on to each cookie. [Although the crystalized ginger may be too fiery in taste for some people especially kids. If so perhaps add a halved or quartered glace [candied] cherry on to each cookie, or a wee vegan sweetie or candy, for example a Jelly Tot.]3 tablespoon crystalized ginger [candied ginger]
- Leave until the icing has set. To speed this up pop the cookies into the refrigerator just until the icing sets.
- Nutritional information is intended for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients can vary.
- Iced gingerbread cookies will keep for at least 4-5 days, perhaps a few days more if stored somewhere cool and dry. Un-iced cookies can be stored longer.
- Store within a cookie tin/tub or a glass cookie jar. Wrap in parchment paper and kitchen foil if storing in a plastic food container or if not eating within the next few days.
- The cookies can also be wrapped if storing in a cookie tin/tub and this will keep them fresher for longer.
- Un-decorated cookies can be frozen for 3-4 months, well wrapped.
- The crystalized or candied ginger may be too fiery in taste for some people and kids, so if this is an issue simply omit or replace with a halved glace [candied] cherry or a wee vegan sweetie or candy, such as a Jelly Tot or chocolate drop/button.
- Stork baking spread was used for this recipe.
- If your outwith the UK and can't source golden syrup then replace with light molasses. Darker types of molasses may change the flavour too much creating a richer cookie, but it could still be tried out and the flavour may be preferred!
Prepared these tasty vegan old-fashioned gingerbread cookies?
Do let us know how you got on with the recipe by dropping us a comment below, and clicking the recipe star ratings above.
All feedback and star ratings are very much appreciated.
Thanks so much, Jacq x