By Emma JohnsonDecember 22nd 2018

With the festive season officially upon us, I am craving ALL the Christmassy treats.

Baking gingerbread biscuits is something that has been a tradition in my home growing up, with the Shetland recipe being passed down through the generations.

I have adapted the recipe to make them vegan and whilst these aren’t exactly like the classic ‘gingerbread biscuit’ (the oats give a slightly chunkier texture – but I love the flavour they add!) they taste delicious.

Whilst I have altered the classic gingerbread recipe that has been passed down through the family, I have tried to restore that Shetland flare by shaping and decorating them like Shetland Fair Isle Ganseys.

I asked a few of my friends and family the following question: when you think of Shetland, what comes to mind? I got various answered like Tammie Norrie’s, Shetland ponies, beaches, sheep, the sea, cliffs. Then I asked my partner, and he came up with Fair Isle Ganseys. Genius!

Knitwear is a HUGE part of Shetland culture. And I like to see this recipe as a way of celebrating that.


For the gingerbread:

  • 280g of ground oats (for a smoother texture you could use oat flour, ground oats, buckwheat flour – the options are endless!)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g chopped dates (soaked in boiling water for 10-15 minutes)
  • 50ml coconut oil
  • 40g of date syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg (1 tsp flax meal + 2 tsp water)

For the icing:

  • 6 tbsp of chickpea water
  • 500g icing sugar


  • Combine the oats, baking powder, dates and spices in a food processor until the mix is crumbly.
  • Add the date syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and flax egg – combine until mixture comes together.
  • Remove mixture and flatten between two pieces of grease proof paper (or Teflon sheets if you have those!) until it’s around 3mm thick, then refrigerate for 1 hour. If you’re in a rush, pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Before taking the gingerbread out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 150°c.
  • Next, cut and place the gingerbread pieces on a baking tray covered with grease proof paper. I created a template on my laptop, printed it out and cut around it to create the ganseys. I’m sure there would be jumper shaped cookie cutters you could buy OR, if you’re super creative, make yourself.
  • Bake the biscuits in the oven for 30 minutes until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
  • To make the royal icing, use an electric whisk, and beat the chickpea water until foamy. Then add 400g of the icing sugar to the mixture and continue to mix on a high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy. Then add the remaining 100g of icing sugar, mixing until soft peaks are formed.
  • Next is the fun bit! To decorate the ganseys. I got my sister involved for some extra help and we did a few with only the white royal icing and a few with a combination of white and colour (for the coloured icing we cheated slightly and bought pre-made icing tubes!).

I hope you enjoy my gingerbread recipe if you have a go at making it yourself! I would love to see photos of your creations if you do. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.