Our children grew up with some lovely Swedish nannies who filled the house with the sweet baking smells of their homeland. This is a great recipe, neither too sweet nor too spicy, and a perfect foil for the sweet icing which goes on top. You can make the dough in bulk and store it tightly covered in the fridge or freezer.
Preheat oven to 150°C fan bake. Beat together butter, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to butter mixture with flour and spices.
Line 2-3 oven trays with baking paper. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and give each one a light sprinkling with flour for easier handling. Roll out each piece between plastic wrap or baking paper to ½cm thickness (avoid using too much flour when you roll the dough as this dries out the mixture).
Remove the top sheet of plastic or paper from the rolled-out dough and cut dough into shapes. Carefully transfer to prepared baking trays, allowing a little space between each biscuit. Bake at 150°C fan bake until starting to colour, about 15 minutes. Cool biscuits on trays; they will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight container. Ice biscuits with royal icing, up to 5 days before serving. They will soften just a little once they have been iced. Makes 36 biscuits (or 20 gingerbread men)