Thursday, 27 December 2007

Gingerbread House

I have never made a gingerbread house before but, aware of the increasing social problem of homeless gingerbread men at this time of year, thought it my duty to help out.

I knew that gingerbread homes must be decorated but I was also aware that my eatership on this one would be at the more ‘aged’ end of the spectrum so it couldn’t be too over-the-top as to turn them off it fearing indigestion, or worse.

It’s difficult to be specific really about making a gingerbread house as you can make it any size or shape you want and decorate it pretty much how you wish. What I will provide is the basic gingerbread recipe and the icing recipe that will hold the house together.

More experienced gingerbread builders draw their own templates for house panels. I used a tin that had been pre-marked.

I thought the dough was particularly attractive and glossy (yes, I know, I need to get out more....)

I approached it like an IKEA flat pack project – here are the panels:

Anything that required detailed piping work, I thought best to do while I could still lay the panels flat. I am particularly proud of my piped tree!

Assembling the panels is the tricky bit. Don’t be afraid to use mugs or pots to rest the panels against whilst the icing is drying:

I’m not sure you’d get a clean survey on this house – the chimney looks a bit wonky!

And here’s the finished house from the other side:

Of course, this is a house for eating and it’s a tricky task to break into it. Luckily, my nephew’s friend, Merf Gustav Mulpeno (for years we thought he was a raccoon, only to discover recently he's actually a ring-tailed lemur) was on hand to do the necessary:

Unfortunately, he then claimed squatters’ rights!

For the gingerbread (this quantity made my whole house):
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tablespoons golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger (I confess to putting a lot more in)

For the icing to hold the house together:
454g icing sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
6-8 tablespoons warm water

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/Gas mark 6
- Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan.
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won’t come together add a tiny amount of water.
- Roll out a portion of the dough, between two sheets of baking paper, to about the thickness of two £1 coins and using your template, tin or cutters cut out the house panels. I recommend rolling only part of the dough at a time as it doesn’t re-roll that well. If the dough starts drying out and getting stiff it can be revived by a dash of water.
- Whatever method you use for cutting out the panels you need: two side walls, two roof panels and a front and back wall.
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until firm and a little dark at the edges.
- Leave to cool and harden up. It is best to make the gingerbread a day or so before assembling the house as you want the gingerbread to firm up and settle so it doesn’t crumble in your hands when building.
- To make the icing which will hold the house together put all the ingredients in a mixer and mix until it holds a stiff peak.
- Assemble the house by using the icing as cement. Pipe around the edges of each panel and stick onto a large board.
- When the construction is complete you can decorate however you wish.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


glamah16 said...

Cute! Next year I'll try to attemptone. The only time I did it , it fell apart. Happy New Year.

Soo said...

What a great house! Though, if I'm honest, it's quite annoying that your first one is such a work of art!

Mrs Hilda Dangleberries said...

what an adorable fluffy faced raccoon puppet in that biscuit shed, he looks full of fun.

we will shortly be visiting our grandchildren and would love to know where we can buy him and maybe more themed merchandise from as gifts for all of them. Their previous seal puppets got infested and had to be thrown.

could you please advise ?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hilda - unfortunately Merf is aged and worn. He was a copy of a range of toys popular some 20 years a go and purchased from a person selling such items from a basket in Covent Garden.
Like the Doctor, in Dr Who, I fear he is the last of his kind. Unlike the Doctor, Merf is unable to regenerate and faces an uncertain future where he is likely to disintegrate.

I'd stick with seal puppets if I were you.

Margaret said...

A true work of art. Wonderful!
Happy New Year.