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Tuesday 30 October 2012

Baking for Beginners: Spooky Gingerbread Bats

Hooray, it's Hallowe'en! Time to buy lots of chocolates for trick or treaters, then sit inside quietly with the lights off, eating them all yourself. Last year, my neighbour's tiny sons rang the doorbell, but were so confused by what they were meant to do that they ended up giving me sweets. I ended up in chocolate profit. WIN.

As well as hoarding sweets, Hallowe'en is an excellent time to get your bake on. Gingerbread is easy and satisfying to make, and announces to your kitchen that winter is coming. That spicy, welcoming scent will usher in a season of big coats and Slankets and hot booze. The pinch of cayenne pepper in these adds a gentle kick - and you can experiment further with whatever spices you fancy (nutmeg? Cloves?).

These aren't hard gingernuts, but rather delicate, velvety biscuits that melt in the mouth. If you're making them as decorations, leave them exposed to the air for a day to harden slightly. I found some spooky biscuit cutters in my cupboard, but you could definitely freestyle some bat and ghost shapes with a small knife and some imagination. Or you could simplify things further by using these awesome gingerdead men cutters.

Spooky gingerbread bats (makes 20)

You will need:
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 60ml golden syrup
Make it!
  1. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne into a bowl. Rub in the butter (or blitz in a food processor) until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Whisk the egg and golden syrup together, then gradually add to the dry ingredients until it forms a soft dough. Add a little more golden syrup to bind it if necessary.
  3. Briefly knead the dough until smooth, then wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C/350G/gas mark 4 while you're waiting, and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  4. Roll out the dough to 5mm thick, cut out your shapes and lay on the trays.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until light brown, leave to firm up on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  6. Finish by dusting with icing sugar or coating with a simple water icing (add a spoon of cocoa for a chocolatey finish).


  1. I just made these in star shapes for the US election. They make delicious cookies.


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