I was extremely keen to participate in this month's challenge especially as we were asked to do a gingerbread house. I've never done anything like this before so it would be really something as far as I was concerned. Both Anna and Y had posted their own gingerbread dough recipe. However we were also allowed to use any other recipe of our own choosing. I randomly picked a recipe from BBC Good Food and also used their gingerbread house template.
I really had great fun putting the entire house together. The house templates were baked and kept in the fridge a week ago. During the mid week, I scouted around for different candies, cookies, etc that would be used to decorate the house. My niece and nephew who happened to be in town this week helped out by putting up the wood pile and fence around the gingerbread house. They in turn had their own pieces of gingerbread cookie to decorate whilst I was assembling mine. I think for every piece of candy that went onto their cookie, one piece would be popped into the mouth .... that's kids for you!
Anyway I also wish everyone of you a happy New Year and hope you have a great kick start to usher in 2010.
For the Gingerbread Dough
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1) Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won't quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.
2) Cut out the template. Put a sheet of baking paper on your work surface and roll about one quarter of the dough to the thickness of 1/4". Cut out one of the sections, then slide the gingerbread, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels. Any leftover dough can be cut into Christmas trees, if you like.
3) Bake all the sections for 12 mins or until firm and just a little darker at the edges. Leave to cool for a few mins to firm up, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.
4) Put the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium nozzle. Pipe generous snakes of icing along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Use a small bowl to support the walls from the inside, then allow to dry, ideally for a few hours.
5) Once dry, remove the supports and fix the roof panels on. The angle is steep so you may need to hold these on firmly for a few mins until the icing starts to dry. Dry completely, ideally overnight.
6) Decorate the gingerbread house with a variety of candies, sweets and chocolates. For the roof, I used oat bran crackers for a more realistic effect.