Gingerbread house. Enough said?
The initial stages of this bake took me back to my secondary school days in Technology class, of the woodwork variety. Having my template and carefully cutting out my walls and roof was a nostalgic process. This venture with freshly-baked gingerbread did, thank goodness, prove a lot more successful than my efforts with wood (let’s just say I was never top of that particular class!). I was actually pleasantly surprised by the ease in which I managed to produce what was quite an impressive bake. I had visions of sitting for hours holding together the walls, waiting for the icing to set… only to end up with a painfully wonky and fragile excuse for a house. Happily, this wasn’t meant to be! My little house stuck together beautiful and swiftly with the help of a batch of royal icing (although I made FAR too much for the task at hand!). Here is the recipe I used:
The most exciting part of making a Gingerbread house of course is going crazy with edible decoration. One particularly effective touch is to install stained glass windows 🙂 . It’s actually extremely simple, but looks really great. Simply cut out window holes in the dough before baking and place some crushed-up boiled sweets in various colours into the spaces. During baking the sweets melt, creating the glass effect.
I spent most time and effort decorating the roof my house. I started by plastering the roof panels in royal icing, then created a tile effect with alternating white and milk chocolate buttons. I then used Mikado sticks (which I had to keep careful watch over… as hubby was in the room at the time with prying eyes and confectionery theft as his agenda!) to create a chalet-style effect.
Jelly beans also featured in my design, in an attempt to create the look of fairy lights around the apex of the roof (plus it adds a pleasing splash of colour!).
What I love about these houses is that one can be as slap-dash as one pleases with the icing, as any runny/untidy application simply resembles snow/icicles… adding to the charm and uniqueness of the finished product (luckily for me, as my piping skills currently leave a lot to be desired!).
Here is a link to the template I used for my house:
There is a chimney included, which I chose to omit in this case (purely out of laziness in honesty… and to avoid complications with this being my first attempt at house construction!).
I found I had some spare dough left over after cutting out all of the template pieces… so I browsed through my biscuit-cutter collection and came to a somewhat random conclusion that a few token sheep loitering around the house would be a suitable solution.
For the basic gingerbread, I went for an ever-reliable Mary Berry recipe from her Complete Cookbook.http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Berrys-Complete-Cookbook-Berry/dp/1405370955/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414329136&sr=1-1&keywords=mary+berry%27s+complete+cookbook . There are endless alternative recipes out there though, just go with whatever works for you.
Overall, I found this baking process immensely enjoyable. A perfect way of passing by half a day of a weekend, in my opinion.