The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

gingerbread boy yeast breads

Melesine's picture

gingerbread boy yeast breads

I'm looking for the full recipe for yeast dough gingerbread boys that I grew up eating. My mom made these every Christmas and I remember helping her as a kid. The problem is that my mom could only find the ingredient list after many years of the recipe being lost, but no instructions and hasn't made these in probably 25 years now. I've searched the web and haven't found a similar recipe. 

Here are the ingredients

  • 6 ¾ cups flour
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 pkg yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 eggs


What I rememeber is after the first rising we shaped them into logs about 6 inches long and then made a cut at the bottom to shape legs and then an L shaped cut for the arms. The neck was created by pinching. Then they were left for a second rise and then baked. After they were cool, they got a light 10x sugar and either milk or water glaze ( can't remember anymore) and then a cut cherry for the mouth and chocolate chips for the eyes, nose and buttons in a line down the chest. 

They freeze well. 


Problem is the one time I tried to make them they weren't like I remembered. I don't have the cooking temp or time. I think that possibly the water, milk and molasses and butter were heated on the stove before adding to the dough? I'm unsure of how heavy the dough should be ( hydration). My mom always did the mixing of the dough. Last time I definitely overcooked them but it was a new house and I found out the oven was high by 50 degrees. 


Anyone know of this recipe or have any suggestions. I'd love to pass these down to my now adult daughter. 



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Reads simple enough.

I think you could combine all the ingredients without warming unless you have active dry yeast and need to warm some liquid to dissolve active dry yeast.  Then I would just warm the milk.  When I add up the milk+water+egg I come out with about 56% hydration to the flour (236g water, 118g milk, 60g each for eggs, 125g flour per cup.)  Then with molasses and soft butter it should be about right as a normal dough feel.  Don't work any more flour into it.  Let it rise like you explained and shape and wait out a final rise to almost double.   You might want to brush them with milk while rising and/or before baking.  Because of the sugar and sweet ingredients, preheat 350°F and if they are browning too quickly reduce 25°  My guess is that they will take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes to bake depending on the size.  How many "boys" does the recipe make?

The frosting, well my favorite is juice from 1/2 lemon, a little vanilla extract and about 1 cup powdered sugar (a pad of salt free butter if you want a softer glaze.)  Start out with the sugar and slowly add the liquids until you get the right consistency.  Be careful not to add too much liquid too fast blending well with each little addition.  Mix longer for a whiter glaze, less for a more transparent one.  I never really follow a recipe.  

Melesine's picture

They make 4 large ones, 2 per half sheet pan. But obviously you could make smaller ones.


I was raising a batch when I posted this and tried baking them at 375. I think you are right and next time I'll try 350. It's the lack of baking instructions I'm struggling with. 


This batch came out better than my previous one ( last time I tried to make them was 2 years ago when I finally got the ingredients list), I used SAF gold yeast this time and used the proofer box I got a few weeks ago for the first rising. Had to use the oven with light one for the second rising though as the proofer won't fit 2 half sheet pans lol. 

They are still cooling so I haven't glazed them yet. Thanks for the lemon juice glaze idea. They do look much lighter in texture and very similar to the ones I remember as a kid, than the previous batch a few years ago.  

Can't wait to taste them. 

Since I used instant yeast I did just put everything into the mixer and set the timer to knead for 10 minutes. I'm sure my mom was not using instant yeast when she made them. 




RobynNZ's picture

If you have the B & T proofer, have you seen Sylvia's paper clip method of adding another shelf?

Glad to hear you are close to recreating that childhood Christmas treat.

Melesine's picture

Even if it had another shelf it won't fit them all at once. 

Bahperkins's picture

For Melesine, I found this entire recipe for yeast gingerbread kids in the process of digitizing all my recipes. I can scan it. Is there any way I can upload it to this site?