Fill your home with the aroma of gingerbread and share that festive feeling. Whether you're baking gingerbread men, constructing an elaborate gingerbread house or decorating a traditional Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread heart) with a sentimental message, baking gingerbread is a tradition in many homes around Christmas.
Combine the honey, sugar and vegetable shortening in a medium-sized saucepan.
Stir over low heat until the shortening is melted and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be bubbling gently. Remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly for approximately 5 minutes.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment). Sift in the flour, cocoa and gingerbread spice. If using bicarbonate of soda and baking soda instead of pottasche, add to the mixture now.
Stir half of the flour mixture into the honey mixture using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer. Mix in the egg.
Dissolve the pottasche in the water, stirring until the mixture is clear. Add this to the dough and mix until it is incorporated.
Add the rest of the flour mixture, bit by bit, until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it gently until the mixture loses its stickiness. Add a little more flour if needed: the dough should be nice and warm and easy to knead.
Shape into a flat disc, place into a reusable ziplock bag or silicone bag, seal and rest in the fridge for approximately 1 hour.
When you are ready to roll out the dough, preheat the oven to 180°C fan forced.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface to about 0.5cm thickness. If the dough is too firm, leave it for a few minutes to soften.
Cut shapes from dough using a cookie cutter, re-rolling the dough as necessary. Place the shapes on oven trays lined with baking paper or reusable silicone matts.
Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.