I bought this ladies magazine during an antiquing jaunt at the Cambridge Antique Market. Five floors, friends, of everything from jewelry, to clothing, to furniture, to a duo of gentlemen who fix vintage bicycles in the basement. It is .. my happy place. One of them, anyway.
Today’s vintage Christmas cookie recipe for Gingerbread Men is pulled from Everywoman magazine. More specifically, it is from the Christmas Number, December, 1954.
To make Gingerbread Men, you’ll need:
-8 oz. custard powder (I actually had to look this up, hoping that it wasn’t like that gross pistachio pudding that my extended family seems to love. According to Wikipedia, it pretty much is the thing I was dreading – a cornstarch-based powder that thickens when you add milk. Happily, you can pretty much duplicate the same texture using straight cornstarch, so my suggestion would be to try using 3 oz of cornstarch and 3 oz of flour and seeing what it does to the texture.)
-8 oz. self-rising flour (You can create self-rising flour on your own by adding 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt to each cup of flour. Follow this link to a very useful ingredient substitution guide for baking.)
–7 oz. margarine (Ugh. Okay, substitute butter here.)
–4 oz. castor sugar (Castor sugar (UK) is super finely granulated sugar. It’s known as bar sugar, baker’s sugar or superfine sugar here in the U.S.)
-1 level dessert spoon ginger (I hope you have your dessert spoons ready and polished! No? This seems to me to be a little less than a teaspoon.)
–1 egg, beaten (Finally, something real!)
–milk to mix
Now for the fun part. I’m adapting this recipe so it agrees with the substitutions I’ve listed above and so the steps make better sense.
First, cream butter and sugar, then add the beaten egg. Sift, then fold in dry ingredients. Add very little milk – just enough to make a workable dough. Roll it out on a floured board, and cut out little men, animals, stars, crescent moons, etc., from patterns made from postcard (or you can use cookie cutters).
Bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate oven (I’d say 350).
And now, verbatim from the original recipe because it’s so sweet: Decorate the shapes with icing and gaily coloured sweets and silver balls. Attach a coloured ribbon loop to the back of each little figure with a dab of thick icing.