Preheat your oven - conventional 180°C, Fan assisted 160°C, Gas mark 5.
Make the dough, pop all your hot liquid mix ingredients into the pan and gently bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Once boiled it will bubble up. Add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk it through. It will go foamy and smell lovely. Take care it doesn't spit.
Pour into your electric mixer bowl (or normal bowl if you don't have an electric one) , let cool til just hand hot.
Tip in the flour and beat on slow until combined, again if using a spoon this will work but it is quite a stiff sticky mixture and it's much better to use an electric one!
Wrap in cling film and chill for a few hours or leave overnight. It can also be frozen at this point if you wish.
Once you have your dough ready, roll out on a floured surface and knead the chilled dough until it's pliable. Use a rolling pin and try to keep it at an even thickness. Don't turn it over, just keep dusting plenty of flour under your sough and turn quarter turns periodically so you get a uniform piece of dough rolled out.
Now cut out your people shapes, gently lift them with your knife or palette knife onto your tray. Make sure to leave a good gap in between them, at least 1 cm as they will spread when cooking.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, keep checking after 10 mins so they don't burn.
Once cooked cool on a wire rack. Decorate when cool.
Mix up your royal icing according to the packet instructions, you need a stiff enough consistency to pipe lines, so it should flow from the piping bag but hold it's shape. Now get cracking bringing these spicy gingerfolk to like, be adventurous or stick to the traditional eyes, nose and smile with buttons. For extra pizzaz, dust over with some cake decorating glitter to make them all magical and sparkly.
Recipe courtesy of Juliet Sear's cookbook, The Cake Decorating Bible, available from Fancy Nancy.