“Paraisten piparkakut” is my heirloom recipe and it’s the one and only gingerbread recipe for me. It’s a classic gingerbread cookie recipe which my mother wrote down in 1960s when she was studying all things home economics as a young adult.
How would I describe these gingerbread cookies? The first bite is crispy but then the cookie melts in the mouth. Not soft, not crunchy hard but crispy and tender. Interested?
Since I know and trust this recipe inside and out, I’ve decided to thoroughly bake it with you. In this post, you find the recipe and process with casual baking photos. End of the post, you’ll also find more history about this recipe which dates back to 1910s and tips how to make it your own.
In this second post, I have detailed showcase photos on how to read a gingerbread cookie. Yes absolutely you should understand why your gingerbread cookie looks like the way it does so that you can troubleshoot as you bake. Gingerbread cookies are pretty flexible and not hard at all when you understand the recipe.
And finally before Christmas, I’ll post a third article with my usual moody scenes when decorating the cookies and also giving tips for making a gingerbread house. Okay, let’s start!
The recipe yields approximately >2 kilos of gingerbread dough. I recommend using cutters of different sizes so that you can maximize the use of rolled surface area. Baking cookies of the similar size on one tray gives the best result so it’s a good idea to rotate 2-3 baking trays even when baking alone.
500g butter 200g + 200g caster sugar 200g dark syrup 1 tsp cinnamon 1,5 tsp ground ginger 2 tsp ground cloves 1 tbsp bitter orange peel powder 3-4 tsp baking soda (I had 17g) 3 eggs (mine were 178g in total) 700g all-purpose flour + safe extra 300g flour for working the dough BAKING DAY
200g + 200g caster sugar
200g dark syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1,5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp bitter orange peel powder
3-4 tsp baking soda (I had 17g)
3 eggs (mine were 178g in total)
700g all-purpose flour + safe extra 300g flour for working the dough
Do’s and Don’ts of baking Gingerbread Cookies
My take on gingerbread dough is twofold. With homemade dough, I can enjoy maximum flavor and perfect tender cookie texture but commercial frozen dough is best for making gingerbread house. These are two totally different animals! I recommend to use my dough recipe only for delicious cookies and not as building blocks.
Whether you’re baking alone or with kids, there are few things to keep in mind when baking gingerbread cookies.
- Always roll a piece of cold dough and not the whole dough at once.
- Always place the dough shapes on a cold baking tray.
- Do bake dough shapes of the similar size together.
- If your cutter has sharp corners, be careful not to burn the cookies.
- Do not leave the oven alone! Gingerbread cookies bake fast!
- Do not use wire rack for cooling, cool cookies flat instead.
- Do flour your rolling pin and working desk generously.
History behind the recipe
You know how in the old days recipes were named after a location or a person who invented them? This is the exact logic here. The recipe is called “Paraisten piparkakut” as my mother handwriting states. Piparkakku is a direct translation for gingerbread cookie from Finnish and the first word refers to a place located in the west coast archipelago.
However, there are many versions under this exact recipe name. It’s famous and loved by many generations since Lyydia Ekroos made this recipe in 1910s in Parainen. In the old days, unique recipes were a secret worth of money and so was this gingerbread recipe which was then sold to a bakery. The cookies are not longer sold commercially.
Actually, the story goes on that the first authentic recipe is still a secret even though multitude of versions of the original are to be found. What’s is the thing about these famous gingerbread cookies that are more popular and famous than any other Finnish gingerbread cookies? I have a theory and it’s called lots of butter and a bit more eggs than usual! 😀
Honestly, this is a really nice dough to work with. The initial 700g of flour is a good base for the test bake to see how your flour and dough behaves in the oven. Add more but do not work the dough all the way. As you roll and cut the dough multitude of times, it will also get more flour during the process.
How to make this recipe your own?
Recipe is always a starting point. I recommend you make a test bake with this recipe as is & then adjust the spices to your preferences. For example, I use extra 0,5 tsp more for each spice because I like gingerbread cookies a bit more fierce. As a classic old recipe, bitter orange peel powder is the thing.
What other spices to use in gingerbread dough? A little bit of cardamom or black pepper will bring more kick. Substituting some of the caster sugar with unrefined coconut sugar brings also nice notes.
What about less spices? Gingerbread cookies do include cinnamon but it’s not the hero behind this cookie. Please be brave. Because the recipe includes baking soda, I don’t recommend using less spices without decreasing also the amount of baking soda and this will also affect the baking result.
For crispy and tender cookie texture, I suggest keeping other ingredients constant and following the baking process. If you must, you can substitute baking soda with baking powder but double the amount of baking powder.
Okay okay, if you insist! To make really thin and crispy gingerbread cookies, roll the dough 1mm-2mm thick. Bake the cookies 200C for few minutes without blinking your eyes! If you want to make a whole batch of thin cookies, use a little less egg & leavening as mentioned to achieve even crisper cookies.
Originally my mom has written that the dough shapes should be 0,5cm thick. Too thick for me! I prefer the 0,3cm thickness and steady rise in lower temperature.
Hope you enjoy this recipe!