Friday, 20 December 2013

Once upon a time

A very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the forest with his two children, Hansel and Gretel.

Know the story? 

Everyone loves a gingerbread house don't they?! I've been planning to make a gingerbread house this Christmas for a few months and have a board on Pinterest with a few ideas. I know that Mary Berry made one on the GBBO special last week but I've not got round to watching it yet.

I believe her recipe, amongst others, uses dark muscovado sugar but I've just run out. So I used a different recipe. Eeeeek. Stress. Would the gingerbread go hard enough? Dark enough? Rise too much?

Mine did rise but not too much and it didn't affect the building of the house (phew). I'd already made some royal icing at the weekend for my Christmas cake and I make mine with powdered egg white.
1 x 8g sachet of powdered egg white, 250g icing sugar, 45ml water is my recipe for royal icing.

On to the gingerbread. I did use Mary Berry's template in a fashion (, I reduced the size by about 1cm top and sides and omitted the star (because I forgot). I then also forgot to cut windows but did remember the door at least. 

Ingredients: enough to make one house plus two extra gingerbread men

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon 
125g butter (vitalite)
175g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Add the flour, bicarbonate and spices to a food processor and blitz to mix. Add the butter and whizz until it's like breadcrumbs then add the sugar. Mix the egg and syrup together and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip out and knead briefly until it forms a dough then chill for 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180/160 fan and line baking sheets with baking paper. Take out the dough and roll until it's about 5mm thick. Be careful when transferring to the sheets that they keep their shape. Bake until turning golden brown then leave to cool completely.

To assemble, I first stuck one front and one side together with icing also on the base to stick to the board (I used a square cake board). Use the icing like mortar. The icing shouldn't be overly runny either. 

Add the back then another side so you have the complete base. I should have taken photos at this stage but didn't. I then left it a couple of minutes to harden a bit. When I was confident to continue I added the roof panels. Here gravity really comes into play and I used cups of the correct height to hold the roof in place. Then added the second roof panel. There's a chimney too but mine was at the wrong angle to use - abandoned to the children's awaiting mouths. 

At this point I realised I had no actual plan of how to decorate and realised I'd forgot to cut windows in. So I piped windows on with extra icing on the tops and sills to look like snow. I filled in all the edges of the house and roof, piped around the door frame then decided in a millisecond to pipe on roof tiles. At this point I thought it best to raid the cupboards to see if I had any sweets. I found a small packet of chocolate buttons and some fruit pastilles so stuck those on. I then went round to add more "snow" then stood back to admire my work. So it's plain, not very inventive at all after all my Pinterest planning, but it was done and it was standing. Success!

The boys had the gingerbread men for tea and they're rather scrummy

Next year I'll try and be more inventive!

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