Christmas baking – Gingerbread palace!

16 Dec

Hello everybody and merry christmas festivities to you all! IT’S CHRIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAS! Quite possibly the most stressful,busiest time of the year but all in all, an exciting time of year when you can cosy up inside and spend time with your family.

As I lead such an exciting life (not), this past weekend was actually granted to me as a FULL, 2 day weekend off work! Cor, what a joy! Because who needs weekends right!? (See my previous blog on the joys of working in retail…) So I decided to pencil in some baking time into my diary with my fabulous auntie who is a genius in the kitchen! In previous years, she’s made some cracking ginger bread houses so I decided to finally chime in and have a go myself. Twas a merry day of baking (a bloody hard one at that! – it took 6 hours!!!) and it was actually fairly easy to make so here’s the recipe…

Ingredients you’ll need:
– 90ml golden syrup
– 350g softened butter
– 350g light muscovado sugar
– 6 egg yolks
– 1400g plain flour
– 15ml bicarbonate of soda
– 30ml ground ginger
– 270ml (9 fl oz) milk

(These measurements are double of what the original measurements were. We decided to go with more just so we had extra gingerbread dough. If you want less then just half the numbers.)

So step 1 of making your ginger bread house is to actually prepare the infrastructure of the house. My auntie had already sorted out her dimensions before I got involved but it’s fairly simple to do yourself. Just get a ruler and a pencil and make some square and rectangular shapes to form walls and roofs. (making sure that the measurements all match…) Cut out all your shapes ready for later and use remaining baking paper to line some trays. Whack your oven on to preheat at 180 degrees celcius and bobs your uncle!

Moving onto step 2 and it’s time to make your gingerbread! Measure out all of your ingredients listed above and then the first thing you’ll want to do is melt down the golden syrup. Whilst the syrup is melting down in a pan, get your mixing bowl and put in the butter and sugar. Start by mixing/creaming this all together and gradually add all of your other ingredients. Starting with the egg yolks, then moving onto the melted down golden syrup, then the flour/ginger/bicarbonate soda and finally adding in the milk as you mix it all together. Might I suggest that a fancy kitchen aid is a bloody wonder when it comes to mixing these ingredients. I imagine that doing it with a spoon or with an electric whisk might take some time but my god, kitchen aids are a god send!

Not buts, it's got to be butter!

No buts, it’s got to be butter!

The mix of flour/ginger/bicarbonate soda

The mix of flour/ginger/bicarbonate soda

Once your gingerbread dough/mix is ready and looks a little something like the picture below, then comes step 3 which is rolling out your dough and cutting out the shapes. You’ll want to roll the dough out quite thin but not too thin. (you don’t want it to tear). Once you’re happy with the dough, place your pre-made shapes over it and use a pizza cutter or a knife to smoothly cut around your shapes. Try your best to make the sides as straight and as smooth as possible for you to get the best possible outcome.

DSC04518

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(Top tip at this stage – Make sure you pour plenty of flour onto the surface that you roll your dough onto, the last thing you want is for the mix to stick!)

Take a good chunk of the gingerbread dough and make it into a bit of a ball...

Take a good chunk of the gingerbread dough and make it into a bit of a ball…

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When you’re happy with your shapes and you’ve organised all your bits and pieces, pop them all on your trays and put it all in the oven for 10-15 minutes and boom, that’s your gingerbread done!

A little something extra you can do to your gingerbread house is make glass windows for it. If you’ve decided to cut out shapes of windows into your walls, then those windows can easily be filled with some hard boiled sweets. All you need to do is smash up some sweets and crumble them into the windows. It’s recommended that you cook your gingerbread for the first 5-10 minutes without the windows filled and then add the hard boiled sweets for the last part of the cooking. It’s an awesome little trick and it adds to the colour of your gingerbread palace/house! (Be aware that it takes bloody ages to crack a hard boiled sweet. It’s like metal!! But hey, if you need to blow off some steam, just grab the rolling pin and whack those god damn sweets over and over! Therapy in itself!)

Windows filled with crumbled sweets (before being cooked…)

Windows filled with crumbled sweets (before being cooked…)

Windows filled with crumbled sweets (AFTER being cooked/melted…)

Windows filled with crumbled sweets (AFTER being cooked/melted…)

At this stage, you should (hopefully) have everything in order and your gingerbread should be left to cool on a wire rack. All that’s left after that is step 5, assembling your house. Quite possibly the trickiest stage of the whole thing and the most pressure you’ll ever feel after you’ve just spent forever perfecting your gingerbread, so whatever you do, don’t be clumsy and break your gingerbread or drop it on the floor!! (crucial stuff here folks… no pressure…)

Now like every other infrastructure that stands in one piece, we all know that it’s held together by some sort of glue! In the case of our little gingerbread house, you’ll need a fairly sturdy ‘glue’ to keep the walls in place and that comes in the form of either icing or melted chocolate. It’s entirely up to you what you decide to use to stick it together but in our case, we used royal icing. I don’t have an exact recipe for the icing as my auntie made it quickly but I’m pretty sure it involves a ton of icing sugar, water and a dash of lemon juice. The inter webs will have many an icing recipe so go wild and pick one!

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Once you’ve slabbed on your icing cement and are confident that your structure has set nicely and is standing sturdy, this is the time where you are free to do whatever you want in terms of decoration. Bring out your inner interior designer and create whatever the hell you want. Use chocolate buttons, dolly mixture, marshmallows, whatever you like. I’d make the most of this stage and have fun with what you’re doing. It doesn’t need to be a perfect house. You want it to look rustic and authentic so make it messy and reach for the stars.

Sprinkles!!!

Sprinkles!!!

Steady progress… white chocolate button roof tiles, red lace xmas lights, icing,etc...

Steady progress… white chocolate button roof tiles, red lace xmas lights, icing,etc…

With the extra dough, I made some christmas trees and covered them with icing and sprinkles. A nice addition to the garden!!

With the extra dough, I made some christmas trees and covered them with icing and sprinkles. A nice addition to the garden!!

Here’s the final outcome of my gingerbread house and I’m really quite proud of it! I had a lot of fun making it and I’d fully recommend taking a day out at some point and having a go yourself. It makes you feel like a kid again and who doesn’t like that feeling!? So have a jolly holidays and get baking! I’d love to see if anyone else has made some awesome gingerbread houses so let me know in the comments.

Ta-da!!

Ta-da!!

YUM

YUM

I hope this recipe was of any use to anyone and thank you for reading!
Merry Christmas and ciao for now! x

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One Response to “Christmas baking – Gingerbread palace!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Review: “Bake at Home” – Rainbow Cookies! | Megan Wigley - February 7, 2016

    […] make a pretty decent effort when it comes to making tasty treats. You may have remembered the epic gingerbread house back in 2014!? (Twas pretty […]

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