Following the success of the mansion, this year I decided to dabble in a little property development, and attempt a miniature village.
I think I expanded too soon. After last year's heady optimism about how easy this gingerbread house lark was, this year was, in the words of Craig Revel-Horwood off of Strictly, a 'dissssassstar'. To fix this, I needed the combined efforts of Grand Designs, DIY SOS and...erm... Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen (Come back! Your crazy shirts are forgiven!).
It took no less than seven attempts, two different types of 'icing glue', several choice, most un-festive words and I still had what I believe they call in the trade a 'structural deficit':
In other words bloomin' house No 1 collapsed. Was my gingerbread too soft (I'd left it a day before assembling)? Was my icing not thick and 'gluey' enough? Were my walls too wonky? Was it the festive Egg Nog(s) I'd consumed?
I was about to resort to using bloomin' Pritt Stick, when I remembered that actually, often in baking, its the taste that counts. I abandoned the concept of a village of houses and while gingerbread Lawrence surveyed the damage:
(Yes, this really is a sad faced gingerbread Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen):
A and I tucked right in. The gingerbread was real tasty. And this was the recipe:
125g soft unsalted butter
75g dark muscovado sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
100ml golden syrup
375g plain flour
Half a tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
Half a tsp allspice
To decorate the house:
1 pack of royal icing sugar
2 x packets of white chocolate buttons
2 x packets of red Jelly Tots or candy sweets
1. Pop the butter and sugar in the food processor and whiz until light and fluffy. Add the egg and golden syrup and whiz again until smooth
2. Add the flour, bicarb, baking powder, spices and a pinch of salt and whiz a third time until it forms a soft dough
3. Knead the dough lightly for a minute or so until smooth and flatten into a disc shape, wrap in clingfilm and chill until firm
4. Make the templates:
2 x roof panels: 6.5cm x 10cm
2 x side walls: 50cm x 10cm
1 x front wall: 7.5cm x 5cm, and an extra 3.5 cm to reach the roof
1 x back wall: 7.5cm x 5cm, and an extra 3.5 cm to reach the roof
5. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4 and line 3 large baking sheets with baking paper
6. Roll out the dough roughly 3mm thick and use a knife and the templates to cut out the roof panels and walls
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes and leave to cool
8. Then comes the fun bit....or not so fun bit in my case... Make up the royal icing according to the instructions on the side of the pack and pop in a piping bag. Pipe on the plate 'foundations' to secure the house and then along the edges of the walls and roofs to construct the house
9. When the icing has set, decorate! The white chocolate buttons/roof tiles and the red sweets are stuck down using more royal icing. When you've finished doing your best Lawrence impression, sprinkle generously with icing sugar and leave to set for at least 1 hour before devouring
- I think I need to take some tips from the guys who constructed the World's Largest Gingerbread House. What was their secret? Cement?!
- It was 23 foot high. I couldn't even construct a gingerbread house 23mm high.
- I prefer Mince Pies anyway
- Maybe I need to be asking for this Gingerbread House baking kit from Father Christmas