Gingerbread foxes recipe – including how to make your own biscuit cutter shapes

foxBiscuits4I had an idea to make some gingerbread foxes – the biscuit itself is the right colour for a fox and some white icing would make excellent white fur highlights. Just one problem: nowhere does fox-shaped cutters!
I have made my own cutters in the past, so this wasn’t much of an obstacle, and when I’m determined to do something, I have to finish it.

Notes
  • You don’t need to do fox cutters yourself – you can use these instructions to do any shape. In fact, it’s probably better to start off with something easier, for instance a leaf shape or a cloud etc.
  • So, not only is this my own gingerbread recipe but there is a how-to on reshaping your own cutters. I do normally use a soldering iron to fix the metal together, but as I didn’t want to assume that everyone who wanted a go had a soldering iron or even wanted to use one, I’ve fixed it together with a folding and trapping method, so no hot solder required 🙂
  • I’ve written this in two parts: firstly the cutter making and then the actual recipe.
  • Please bear in mind that it is difficult to judge exactly the circumference of your new cutter shape, as it is not easy to measure

Making your own design cutter

Equipment – for the cutterfox biscuit cutters
  • One large, cheap pre-made cutter – any shape (although a round or simple shape is best as you don’t have to straighten so much out then)
  • Two pairs of sturdy pliers – one with a block/straight head and one needle-nose
  • A pair of tin snips or a good pair of wire cutters
  • Paper and pen/pencil
  • Piece of string
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Small craft hammer (optional)

Method

  1. Draw round your cutter on a sheet of a piece of paper – this will help you to get a rough size for your new cutter shape
  2. Using the string, trace round the shape you’ve drawn and measure it – this will tell you the circumference of your existing cutter. Your new shape needs to be smaller than this
  3. Draw out your new shape that you want and again measure with the string to check it’s smaller than the original cutter. Readjust your design as necessary
  4. If your design is fairly simple you should be able to complete it without breaking the join (where the two ends of the metal have been welded together)
  5. If you have a complex design it becomes very tricky to shape it with a joined cutter – that it, it’s easier to work with a strip of metal rather than a pre-joined piece. For this, either work the join backwards and forwards until it snaps (many cutters are not joined together terribly well) or use the tin snips or wire cutters to snip through the metal. For my fox cutter I needed to use a strip of metal so I broke the join Making a fox cutter - first stages
  6. If you are working with a strip of metal now, you need to work out what part of the design the join will reform at. It is best to have it (as we are not soldering) on a corner or straight line – try not to position it on a curved area as the action of pinching the ends together will create either a sharp corner or flat line.
  7. Using your drawn shape as a guide, start to bend the metal with your two pliers. Remember that all bends and corners must be at a 90 degree angle to the edges of the metal strip. Otherwise you will start to get the cutter out of alignment – the cutting edge must lie flush when you are finished or you will not be about to cut your dough well. As you work, test that the cutter is lying flat by placing it, cutting edge down, on a table and checking that it lies flat all along
  8. As you work keep regularly checking your cutter against the shape you’ve drawn to check you’re still on the right lines
  9. Your straight head pliers are great for ensuring bends and curves are at 90 degrees to the metal strip as you can see the right angle it makes
  10. The needle-nose pliers are good for making tight bends, but do remember they are slanted so can cause your  bends to occur on the slant if you’re not careful
  11. The straight head pliers can also be used as a mini anvil to hammer bends onto and ensure those bends are very crisp with the craft hammer, if you’re using one
  12. Remember that you need to bend both the cutting edge and the thicker edge (the edge you press down on) equally or the cutter can become misshapen. However, the thicker, top edge doesn’t need to be as perfect as the cutting edge
To finish without soldering
  1. Leave one end 2mm longer than the point at where you want the join and one end 4-5mm longer (this accounts for the fold you are going to make in the metal)
  2. Where the two ends meet, you need one end slightly longer than the other by about 2mmcrimping
  3. Bend the longer end over at 2mm in from the end, creating a fold. It is important to bend this to the OUTSIDE of your shape (bending inwards will ruin the shape of the cutter. Having a thick join on the outside edge of the cutter will not affect your cookie shapes)
  4. Slot the other end into this fold
  5. Using your block end pliers crimp the fold tightly together
  6. Make sure the edge of the pliers is in line with the edge of the fold and start to bend it over on itself
  7. Once you cannot bend it further because the pliers themselves are now in the way, remove the pliers and reposition them to crimp the fold down as tightly as possible
  8. This should fix your cutter join enough. If it does ever slip out of joint, you should be able to slide it back together
Checking over
  • If you have any really wavy cutting edges crimp them with the pliers to smooth them out. It doesn’t have to be perfect – biscuit dough is forgiving and you won’t notice a few small kinks in your biscuits after they’ve cooked
  • Not satisfied with what you’ve done? Don’t through it way – the metal can be hammered out flat and you can re-use it to try again
  • Make sure you wash the cutter thoroughly before first use

Gingerbread biscuits

Notes
  • Makes about 30 small – medium biscuits
  • I have not included a recipe for royal icing to flood the biscuits, as you may wish to decorate them differently or not to decorate them at all.
  • For my fox biscuits I made up royal icing (icing sugar, water, meringue powder) and outlined the shapes with a small round nozzle piping bag and flood-filled using a cocktail stick.
Equipment
  • Bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Cutter
  • Rolling pin
  • 2 or 3 baking trays, lined with parchment or baking paper
  • Palette knife
Ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – 75g
  • Golden syrup – 3 tablespoons
  • Black treacle – 1 teaspoon (this does add an essential dark colour and the tannic taste needed for true gingerbread but can be left out if you don’t have any)
  • Demerera or muscovado sugar – 75g
  • Plain flour – 230g (plus have a bit extra incase the mix needs it and for dusting)
  • Ground ginger – 1 teaspoon
  • crystallised ginger – 25g, very finely chopped
  • Orange zest – from one orange
  • Orange extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Unsalted butter – 100g
  • Bicarbonate of soda – 1 level teaspoon
  • Water – 1 tablespoon
Method
  1. Put the water, sugar, syrup and treacle in a sauces pan and heat until just boiling
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts. Add in the orange zest and extract
  3. Weigh out the flour, bicarb, ground and crystallised ginger in a large bowl and tip in the heated mix from the saucepan
  4. Bring together until the mix is fully incorporated (add in a bit more flour if it’s really gooey 0 it should be quite thick but pliable, rather like warm playdough!)
  5. Leave to cool – and then pop it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (keeping the dough chilled is key to ensuring your cookies don’t spread out of shape)
  6. Flour your surface quite well and roll out to about 3mm thick
  7. Cut out your shapes and place them on the lined baking trays
  8. Put the trays somewhere cool to chill (outside in cool weather or in the fridge)
  9. Heat your oven to 170C fan / 190C conventional
  10. Bake the biscuits for about 12 – 14 minutes – they should be firm(ish) to the touch  (leaving them for about 15-16 minutes will have them the right consistency for tree ornaments, slightly less and they are moist and delicious just for eating straightaway)
  11. Leave to cool in the trays
  12. You can leave them in the trays for decorating or lift them carefully with the palette knife onto wire racks
  13. Decorate as you see fit when completely cool

gingerbread foxes recipes and how to make your own cutter

Advertisements

5 comments

  1. I cannot tell you how impressed I am that you make your own cookie cutters – and such imaginative ones. In spite of your very clear directions I have to admit I’ll probably never do follow suit because I have the artistic abilities of a five year old, but I love that you’ve done it. Multi-talented or what? 🙂

    Like

I'd love you to leave a reply :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s