Confessions of a Gingerbread House.

Firstly Merry Christmas!

So this is a story, about a brilliant gingerbread recipe and a horrible gingerbread house construction!

In our family we have a bit of a tradition that each year we have a Christmas Gingerbread House. On boxing day we all sit down and rip that baby apart. I love it! I also secretly hope I get assigned the Gingerbread House each year, maybe not next year after this nightmare!  So anyway this year I armed myself with the help of a new recipe and Thermy I have to say it’s the nicest gingerbread I have made which is in a word LUCKY, some may say a redeeming quality.

For weeks maybe even months I have been plotting it out in my head. It was simply stunning!  AND then I made it… see this is where I am now going to hand the blame to my 4-year-old… But in reality it was a couple of fatal floors in my design and construction… Now I will be demanding the house again next year as I don’t really take defeat lightly, those that know me can attest!

In fact this blog post was never going to see the light of day! I wrote up the recipe before I constructed the house… I just re-read it, ah filled with all this positiveness and happiness. then the dark cloud of doom ascended my gingerbread house! The first few days she looked steady… then hour by hour cracks begun to appear and she became a day by day proposition. Next two seams begun bursting, it took on a bit of a slant and the door had been eaten… by mr 2 and his father… The candy canes had fallen off one by one. However On the upside the roof looks so delicious that each day I was answering this question ” Look it’s not beautiful anyway why don’t you just let me eat the roof? Half the roof? A side? Half a side? ” No Mr. Vixen you may NOT eat the gingerbread house!!! And then it happened…

Once I ruled out sabotage, was a grump for about half a day and a little heart broken, I realised that Christmas would still happen even without an erected gingerbread house, and I guess I realised that I started this blog with Meg’s not as a chef and certainly not as a pastry chef just two thermo lovers with a passion for food so I guess it’s keeping it real to show you my “Ugly Beautiful” gingerbread house, and then the way she crumbled! Even in that crumbled mess the dam thing was SO delicious! It is all gone! The kids could care less that it was in a 100 pieces… my two realised it as a blessing as we nibbled on it all Christmas Eve / Christmas Day and Boxing day! It’s a fine line to walk between delicious soft gingerbread and a sturdy house!

This recipe is NOT one of my own. It is tweaked and converted from the latest Women’s Weekly Magazine. I created my own template for the house. And  It is very basic. I printed it onto card and then traced it onto baking paper. You can simply cover the card with baking paper. Don’t make the mistake of putting the paper straight onto the gingerbread… I took one for the team… trust me it sticks! Also when looking at the size of your gingerbread, stick to the good old saying bigger is not always better.

INGREDIENTS:

250g Butter

200g Brown Sugar (Use dark brown sugar if you have it.)

350g Golden Syrup

2 egg yolks

750g Plain Flour

2 tablespoons Ground Ginger

2 teaspoons All Spice

2 teaspoons Bicarb Soda

METHOD:

  1. Add the Butter and brown sugar mix for 20 seconds on speed 6. 
  2. Add the Golden Syrup and egg yolks and mix on speed 6 for 20 seconds. You may need to scrape the sides to ensure it is all well combined.
  3. Add half of all the remaining dry ingredients. Add the spices first and then the flour. Mix on speed 7 or 8 for 20 seconds. Should be loosely combined. You may have to scrape the sides a couple of times to ensure it will all combine as it’s a bit of a big batch!
  4. Once that is combined add the second half of the dry ingredients and combine. Speed 7 or 8 for 20 seconds. You may need to scrape the sides and get the spatula in for a little extra help.
  5. Once it is loosely combined set lid to closed position and give it 2 minutes on the knead setting. Just a little note to stand by the machine while this is happening, thermy may get the wobbles! You may need  to scrape the sides and give it another minute or two at this stage.
  6. If you are happy with the consistency tip onto your work surface, work the dough into a ball and wrap in glad wrap.
  7. Place into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  8. Roll dough out and you are ready to cut out your house. (You can use this dough for gingerbread men and shapes as well.)

ROYAL ICING – 

2 Egg Whites

400 – 500g Icing Sugar (may need to purchase for the pure white colour. )

tablespoon of lemon juice

  • Whip egg whites with the butterfly in place until soft peaks form. (Speed 4 at 37 degrees)
  • Gradually add the icing sugar until desired consistency is reached. Don’t go too firm otherwise it is more like putty to work with… trust me 🙂

CHOC SPRINKLES ROOF TILES: 

500g Chocolate or Melts (I used choc mint flavoured)

Sprinkles

  • Blitz chocolate for 10 seconds on speed 8.
  • Melt for 3 minutes on 60 degrees, speed 3.
  • Prepare a grid on a blank piece of paper. It should be squares measuring 3cm x 3cm. Then cover with baking paper. Use this as a template to cut out the roof tile shapes.
  • Once chocolate is melted spread a thin layer over the baking paper, roughly the same size as the grid template so that you can see where to start cutting.
  • Then cover with a generous layer of sprinkles.
  • Let it set until almost completely set. Then cut into the 3cm x 3cm tiles and place into the fridge to set.

The Grid all ready for the Chocolate.

The choc mint sprinkles ready to be cut.

CONSTRUCTION…. 

  • Here are some tips on what to do and what NOT to do…
  • So the assembly all started off really well. We decorated… confession when I say we I mean me, minus the one side I assigned to Ruby to go nuts on. I may have just got a little control freaky on her 🙂
  • Then my first big mistake… I assumed I would use white chocolate as the glue… If you are planning this put the white chocolate down and head for the dark chocolate! It was a week and that baby was still soft! It really didn’t set hard once it was melted down. White chocolate is a whole new beast to work with if you ask me! If someone says they have used white chocolate to stick a house together… ask them how… then come and tell me!
  • I made Choc Mint Sprinkles roof tiles, they were A HUGE success – they taste amazing and they look super pretty so put that down as a tick in the Win column. (Recipe and instructions above)
  • I decorated all my pieces while they were flat on the bench. This is a great tip as you can work so much easier without worrying about knocking the house down.
  • Use tins (like a tin of tomatoes) to help stabilise the house while you construct it.
  • Use the royal icing to stick it all together.
  • If you’re a newbie and you don’t have a mould go the smaller house – so much easier to work with. I think some of the construction failings were in my bigger is better mentality!
  • I started hitting hurdles once I tried to put the roof on… It was slightly too heavy for the house to hold up because of the size of it and the white chocolate made it very heavy. But I did manage to get it all together for a week. It looked like this…

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4 Responses to “Confessions of a Gingerbread House.”

  1. Julie Witte
    December 29, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Cass/ Megs ~ good on you for this wonderful post! Remember it’s the journey not the destination 🙂 Your family adored the house, even if it only stood errect for a couple of days ! I do so love the fact that you posted this “warts & all”; we are all but human ~ and gingerbread-house loving humans at that:) Could you just give me your opinion on the royal icing ~ I’ve found the icing too hard to eat in previous attempts, but maybe that’s because I’ve used too much? What say you to the white choc alternative? Altho I didn’t get to make one this year, I’m so looking forward to giving this recipe a go for next year… or maybe for Christmas in July?? Happiest of New Years to you both! Jxx

    • December 29, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      Hi Julie,

      They did enjoy the house! I am thinking about getting a gingerbread house mould for next year! I did enjoy the process right up until it didn’t turn out exactly how planned!

      I think next year i will melt down a flavoured chocolate and put a really thin spread over the gingerbread. Like that Nestle Crunch or even the Cadbury Crunchie block. I think the texture would work really well! Or just a plain milk chocolate. I would stick the the royal icing for putting it all together. I think the royal icing is a bit of a fine balance as you want it to stick hard but still be able to eat it! I found when it was think on the gingerbread it was easy to eat. Like when i stuck the lollies on, that was easy to eat but the joins of the house i did flick the icing off it.

      This gingerbread is really a nice mix! We actually have another batch in the fridge to make some shapes one afternoon this week!

      Hope you had a very merry christmas and have a brilliant new year!
      Cass
      xx

  2. Vicki
    December 30, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I can attest this gingerbread is DELICIOUS. Great blog Cass. I’m already salivating about next year’s.

  3. Nikki
    December 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Hi there, just wondering how long it needs to be baked for and at what temp? Thank you

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