Tuesday 18 December 2012

Gingerbread House How-To

The recipe.  I have been using this recipe for over 20 years, which makes me feel incredibly old! It is delicious.  I would eat Gingerbread for breakfast back in the day, back in the day when it was mostly just me that would eat it.  Now I hardly get a look in with the kids around.  They can smell it a mile away it seems, and I can never make just a single batch.  Double batches everytime in this house.  So far this season I have made 3 double batches.  

125g butter (at room temp or zap for 20 secs to soften)
1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 egg yolk (keep the white for the icing)
2 &1/2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 &1/2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 &1/2 cups icing sugar

1 egg white
4 drops lemon juice
food colouring

Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolk beat well. Gradually add sifted (unsifted works just as well) dry ingredients and syrup, mix well, knead lightly. If it is too crumbly and won't hold shape, add a dash of milk as needed.
On baking paper, roll portions to 3mm thickness. Cut out shapes.
Bake in moderate 180C for 10 minutes.

Icing Method
Sift icing sugar, beat egg white lightly in small bowl using wooden spoon. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well each addition. Add lemon juice and colouring.

And then this is how I really do it.  

Electric mix the egg white for a few seconds to make it a little fluffy and then add the unsifted icing sugar in a few big spoon dumps until you get a thickish consistency.   Add a few drops of lemon juice if I have it, or just leave it out altogether.  Then I portion out the white mix into smaller bowls and colour them individually to get a good array of colours for biscuits.  Or leave plain white for houses. 

This is a fun activity for the kids, the biscuit part that is.  I only ever decorate the houses at night so I don't have any 'helpers'.

Onto the houses!  This recipe will make 1 house, using the dimensions below.  Obviously if you double the recipe it will make 2 houses, and if you modify the template to make smaller houses you may even get 3 out of it. The pictures are not to scale, so it's better if you get some cardboard and use the measurements.  I cut them into some cheap thin plastic chopping boards so I can re-use them every year.

When you have your gingerbread house shapes cut out and on the tray ready to bake, now is the time to add your stain-glassed windows.  Use a cutter (or cut freehand) to make some windows, basically wherever you want them.  The roof is a good place, or the front and back sections. 
Now you need some lifesavers, or any kind of plain boiled lolly.  I crushed them between a clean tea towel and promptly remembered why this wasn't a good idea last year.  One tea towel now thrown in the bin, I crushed them between some baking paper using the rolling pin.  You then generously sprinkle the crushed lolly into the window holes.   

 When the tray comes out of the oven the lolly mix would have melted and merged into the sides of the now baked gingerbread.  But that's not all!  Wait a few minutes for it to harden up slightly, but not entirely, and use a pizza cutter (or be boring and use a knife) and make criss-crossing lines across the melted lolly, to make it just like a real stain glass window!  Without the negative affects of swallowing real glass.  

 When it came time to assembly, I first did the wall and the ends, letting them set before attempting to fit the roof.  
<--- this is what happens when you turn your back to go and get something.  So I recommend you hold the roof in place for a few minutes.

You can decorate it however you like, I wasn't happy with the raspberries, and I will change it up a bit for the next lot I make.  These two were teacher gifts, hence the 'Thank you' and the year.

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