If you want to try some long-maturing honeyed gingerbread dough for Christmas cookies, don’t think October is too early to start!
Traditionally, doughs with flour and honey were laid down to ‘ferment’ for months before the final recipe was mixed and baked up for special festivities.
I think it’s debatable whether these doughs actually ferment (honey doesn’t have enough moisture in it to spontaneously ferment), but I do know that letting these ingredients mature for weeks/months makes a big difference to the taste and also renders the process itself extra-special.
Honey & Flour
Spiced cookies/breads made with honey and have been baked and eaten all over the world for centuries. Records tell us that the idea was brought originally to Europe from China (during the crusades), but there is also a history of honey spice bread in Ancient Egypt too.
Our ancestors thought of honey as magical, because of its healing powers and its sweetness (which would have been a luxury then) and therefore honeyed biscuits and cakes were precious!
How to start your ‘ferment’:
This method can be started months (or if you’re lacking time, weeks) before Christmas.
For each batch of 12 cookies you want to bake, mix up:
125g flour (can be any type, I use wholegrain spelt or rye)
125g liquid sweetener (runny honey or a runny honey/molasses mix is best, I often use 3/4 honey, 1/4 molasses)
- It will be sticky, especially at the start. You can gently heat the honey to aid mixing. Start mixing with a spoon and as the dough comes together, switch to your hands. Work the dough a little and form into a ball.
- Place the dough into a clean container and cover. Put this into a cool spot and leave.
- If you have 3/4 months, leave it that long. If you’re late to the game, no worries, just a week ‘resting’ will make a difference to the cookies!
When you are ready to bake the final cookies, retrieve your fermenting dough and follow my downloadable .pdf recipe here to make the cookies!
If you want to see how I’ve baked up this fermented dough into cookies and cake, check out the Zoom live bake-up I did of this dough here.