Sometimes, you just gotta make a magical Christmas scene out of gingerbread. Sometimes, cookies are the only answer. Sometimes, 22 types of cookies just isn’t enough. Sometimes, gingerbread is all you need.
Sometimes, Christmas is about these kinds of things. Of gingerbread, and ninjabread, of shortbread and yoyos and taking over someone else’s oven because yours stopped inexplicably stopped working in the middle of making a batch of the above biscuits. Or cookies, if you’re American. You know the word cookie most likely came from the Dutch koekje meaning “little cake”? This is especially cool for me since I have Dutch heritage.
But sometimes, Christmas needs us to find its roots again amongst all the commercialism and competition. And not only that, but we need to find the de-sentimentalised Christmas. The Christmas that isn’t just about family and togetherness, lovejoypeaceJesus. Christmas is about more than that.
The Nativity story starts out with the government pushing people around so that they can find ways to make more money. Mary’s an unwed pregnant young girl and Joseph is engaged to an unwed pregnant young girl. Awkward much? Heartbreaking. Mary put her life on the line from the beginning.
They become homeless because there’s no place to stay in Bethlehem. Then, after all that drama, their little boy is in danger. They’re being persecuted because they trusted in God, the God that is not of Rome but of Jerusalem, of the wanderers and the people who can’t find their way.
And so they go on the run and it’s lucky they didn’t live in our time because we would have probably shipped them off to Malaysia or left them on Christmas Island until Jesus was ready to get lost in the Temple.
Refugees. Outcasts. Persecuted for their religion, oppressed by the government, homeless by circumstances not of their own design. This is what the Christmas story is about. And so while we listen to Christmas carols and watch our younger siblings or our children act out the nativity story, we should think about more than just how much we spent on other people or who’s missing out this year. Take the time to reflect, as you smash your amazing gingerbread house and bite off the punching arm of your ninjabread man, of who that baby was and what he grew up to stand for.
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
920 g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
250 g butter, unsalted, room temperature
200 g brown sugar
2 large eggs
350 g molasses
Sift together baking soda, baking powder, spices, and flour and set aside.
Beat the sugar and the butter. Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in molasses.
On low speed, gradually add dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once incorporated, wrap dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F and line two baking trays with baking paper. Roll out the dough to about half a centimetre thick and cut out with your desired cookie cutters. Bake 10-12 minutes. Wait until cool to frost with royal icing.