Home » Sweet » Classic Gingerbread Cookie Recipe | Paraisten piparkakut

Classic Gingerbread Cookie Recipe | Paraisten piparkakut

by Saara

Paraisten piparkakutis my heirloom recipe and it’s the one and only gingerbread recipe for me. My mother wrote down in the 1960s when she was studying all things home economics as a young adult. These are classic Finnish gingerbread cookies.

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 the 1910s and tips on how to make it your own. But that is not all!

baking classic Finnish gingerbread cookies called Paraisten piparkakut
Baking cookies of different sizes together is not a good idea even though it looks pretty for the photographer.

In this second post, I have showcase photos on how to read a gingerbread cookie and troubleshoot your problem. Yes, absolutely you should understand why your gingerbread cookie looks like the way it does so that you can avoid making the same mistake as you bake. Gingerbread cookie dough is pretty flexible and not hard to manage at all when you understand the recipe.

The recipe yields approximately >2 kilos of cookie dough

I recommend using cutters of different sizes so that you can maximize the use of a rolled surface. Baking cookies of a similar size on one baking tray gives the best results. It’s a good idea to rotate 2-3 baking trays even when baking alone. Please do check the tools list from the recipe endnotes.

Vintage Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Classic Gingerbread Cookie Recipe| Paraisten piparkakut

“Paraisten piparkakut” is my heirloom recipe and it’s the one and only gingerbread recipe for me. My mother wrote down in the 1960s when… Sweet Nordic Gingerbread Cookies, Piparkakut, Finnish gingerbread cookies, Piparit, Christmas cookies Finnish Print This
Makes/Serves: >2kg of dough Prep Time: Cooking/Prepping:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

INGREDIENTS

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

METHOD

  1. Measure butter, syrup, spices, and 200g of the sugar to a medium-sized pan. Bring the mix to boil and let it cool. To speed up the process, place the covered pan outdoors or to a cool place.
  2. While the boiled mix is resting, combine 700g wheat flour and baking soda. Once the syrup butter mix is almost cooled, whisk eggs with 200g sugar. Mix eggs and sugar all the way from pale yellow to a light airy foam (should take >10 minutes with a hand mixer ).
  3. Once the spicy butter mix is okay to touch, transfer it into a large baking bowl. Give the butter mix a proper beat with the hand mixer before combining other ingredients.
  4. Fold egg + sugar mix into the butter mix. Then start shifting the flour mix in one cup at the time. You can fold the flour mix in by hand (as I do) or use a stand mixer with the dough hook at a slow speed. Once all flour is in, keep folding and casually working the dough for extra 5 minutes. At this point, it's a good idea to divide the dough in two separate pieces so that it's easier to work the extra flour in.
  5. Cover the dough air-tight and cool it in the fridge. After a couple of hours in the fridge, pre-heat oven and make a test-bake with a small piece of dough. If the cookie holds its form, you're all good. However, if the cookie spreads significantly larger than the cookie cutter and has airy spots on it, add more flour.  Repeat the test bake with adjusted dough and repeat flour additions until the cookie holds its form. Do not add too much flour, though!
  6. Cool the final dough in the fridge from overnight up to 24 hours. You can also freeze the dough for baking later.

BAKING DAY

  1. Pre-heat oven 175°C (347°F) and set up your baking station ready (extra flour, cutters, rolling pin, trays with parchment paper,  cheese slicer, extra cooling spaces for cookies, etc).
  2. Use 2-3 baking trays even when baking alone, add more if having quality time with more people.
  3. Take a handful of cold dough and warm it a little in your hands before rolling. On a floured surface, roll the dough flat and smooth with a floured rolling pin. Roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 3-5mm thick (1/25 - 3/16 inches).
  4. Transfer dough shapes to a parchment-covered baking sheet,  a cheese slicer, or other equivalent thin metallic spatula is a great tool. Bake gingerbread cookies of similar size on one tray for the best result.
  5. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes in the middle section. If your oven gives uneven results, flip the tray when halfway through oven time.
  6. Cool the cookies immediately on a flat surface. Let the cookies cool before transferring them for storage.
  7. When kept air-tight and in a cool kitchen spot, gingerbread cookies are good for 2-3 months.

NOTES

TOOLS YOU NEED: a medium-sized pan, a medium and large bowl, a hand mixer, spoon, spatulas, cookie cutters, rolling pin(s), baking trays with parchment paper, a cheese slicer, extra desk space for cooling cookies, storage box

 

Do’s and Don’ts of baking Gingerbread Cookies

My take on gingerbread dough is twofold. With the homemade dough, I can enjoy the maximum flavor and perfect tender cookie texture. The commercial frozen dough, on the other hand, is best for making a gingerbread house. These are two totally different animals! I recommend enjoying my dough recipe only to make delicious Christmas cookies and not using it 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 similar size together.
  • If your cutter has sharp narrow 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 individual cookies, cool cookies flat instead.
  • Do flour your rolling pin and working desk generously.

The history behind the recipe

Remember how back in the day recipes were named after a location or a person who invented them? This is the story here. The recipe is called “Paraisten piparkakut” as my mother handwriting states. The direct translation for gingerbread cookie from Finnish is piparkakku and the first word refers to the birthplace of the recipe, a town called Parainen on the west coast Finnish 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 the 1910s. 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. Nowadays these cookies are no longer sold commercially.

Actually, the story goes on that the first authentic recipe is still a secret even though a multitude of versions of the original is to be found. So what’s is the thing about these classic gingerbread cookies that makes them more popular and famous than any other 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 accumulate more flour during the baking process.

Finnish Vintage Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

How to make this recipe your own?

A 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 an extra 0,5 tsp more for each spice because I like gingerbread cookies a bit more fierce. As a classic old gingerbread 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 fewer spices? Gingerbread cookies do include cinnamon but it’s not the hero behind this cookie as mentioned. 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. Well, that’s too thick for me! I prefer the 0,3cm thickness and a steady rise at lower oven temperature.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Love, Saara

Did you bake these classic gingerbread cookies? Do share with me on Instagram or comment below 🙂

My Vintage cooking on instagram

P.S. Here’s a useful Gingerbread Cookie Help Guide

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1 comment

Gingerbread Cookie Help Guide | My Vintage Cooking 2019-12-05 - 7:17 PM

[…] flexible when it comes to snacking them, whatever is on the table basically. But when I bake with my heirloom gingerbread cookie recipe, I want the cookies not only to be tasty but also feel and look amazing. In this post, I will break […]

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