Thursday, 5 January 2012

My first ever gingerbread house!

Working in central London sure has its bonus points, being a stone throw's from Fortnum & Mason is an example. I simply love their Christmas decorations this year, they've gone all Moulin Rouge with their corsets and costumes and irresistable chocolate thrown in around the scene.. So I went and had a proper look at all the food and gift sets you can buy. Bearing in mind, this is way out of my league budget wise, I still like a nosey around.

..and they had gingerbread houses, but small ones (!) - so I decided I was gonna do one better than them, lol. We shall see..

I wanted to make this with my nieces but it ended up being myself and my big sister on Christmas eve ... and we had so much fun with this, with a glass of wine or two I might add.

Ingredients for gingerbread house:-

250g butter
200g dark brown sugar
7tblsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
4tsp ground ginger


Preheat oven to 180C or gas mark 4

In a pan on a low heat, melt the butter, brown sugar and syrup, stirring continuously.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, bicarb and ginger. Stir in the melted mixture and combine to form a stiff dough. Leave to cool for a few minutes and cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

Once cooled and set, this dough will now be ready to roll out and to cut shapes for the gingerbread house. I used an existing cardboard set and cut out.

Roll out dough on greaseproof paper, which can then be easily transferred to a baking sheet. Leave to chill in fridge before you bake to ensure the dough does not rise or the shape changes in the oven.

Repeat with remaining dough until you have two sides of the roof, two front walls and two side panels. I also cut out a door and some shutters, but this is optional.

Bake for 10-12 minutes trying to get all pieces to the exact same colour is a little tricky, but you just have to watch it constantly.

Remove from oven and whilst dough is still soft, gently trim sides and edges to make sure they are still squarish and flat, or you will have difficulty building!

Leave to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, transfer to a sealed container and leave for at least 2 days. If the dough is too 'fresh' it may crack when you build it.

Ingredients for decorating:-

300g white chocolate melted
variety of sweets and chocolates
royal icing 

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave in a few 10 second bursts, as you don't want to burn the chocolate. Transfer into a piping bag for optimum results in piping.

Using a square stand - I used a standard square cake board covered in foil - begin to build the house with one side panel and one large panel, using the chocolate as glue. Use as much as you need. You will need to hold in place for a bit until the chocolate cools and sets, but this will definitely hold - provided you have enough!

Continue with the remaining panels using the piped chocolate, I used a few jam jars to hold in place as I got a bit bored of sitting and holding on!!

Leave to dry completely for about an hour, before actually adding any sweets or chocolates.

I used a variety of fruit pastilles, toblerone, smarties, wine gums, marshmallows, giant buttons with a few hundreds and thousands added and green candy sticks which I chopped up  to act as grass around the base of the house. These can be glued on using white royal icing. I also added a few drops around the corners of the house and the shutters on the front of the house, to act as snow!

Depends on what style you have in mind for the house - or colour theme. For the chimney I used a marshmallow cut in half and stuck on with royal icing. Then to my sister's delight, she created some Santa legs out of fondant icing, but they looked more like Mrs Santa's legs hanging out the top of the chimney!!

Around the base of the house, we decided to have a different character or something Christmassy on each corner of the square... my sister made a little french snowman, with a feather in his cap - if you please!

I also made a gingerbread snowman, but dressed him up as a skiing gingerman....

And some pressies or two ...

And of course a Christmas tree!!

A few butterflies carefully added by my very patient sister!

..and down the sides... form a beautiful little house..

Did I eat it.... no way!

I gave it to my niece for her 13th birthday!!!

Happy birthday Tarryn!!!

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