Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the sugar, syrup, treacle, spices, rind and 1 tbsp of water together into a large saucepan. Bring to the boiling point, stirring all the time. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in butter and soda. Stir in the flour, gradually, until you have smooth manageable dough – add a little more flour, if you think it needs it. Now leave the dough – covered in a cool place to become firm approximately 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 3 mm thick and cut out the gingerbread men shapes. Decorate with currants etc to make eyes, noses and buttons etc. Arrange on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the biscuits feel firm when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
Decorate with Royal Icing and your choice of sweets.