Sunday, January 4, 2015

To tempt Hansel and Gretel

For years I have been saying that I will make a gingerbread house from scratch and I've never quite got round to it.  However, this was the year I actually found the time to do it! Rather than using one of my few days off in December to chill out, I (perhaps foolishly) decided to spend the entire day in the kitchen baking gingerbread, making copious amounts of icing, and constructing a gingerbread house.

I followed Mary Berry's gingerbread house recipe and in true Mary Berry style it was easy to follow and make.  Unlike in the shop-bought kits you can get, when you make the gingerbread yourself it turns out sturdy enough to build the house, but still enjoyably soft and tasty.  I made a few alterations to the recipe as my dough came out incredibly dry, meaning I had to add quite a bit of water to make it soft enough and stick together enough to roll and cut out.  I also decided to keep the windows square and as I didn't have a small enough star cutter I left out that part of the design too.

One part I was determined to try was the stained-glass windows made out of boiled sweets.  Simply crush up some boiled sweets (I used rosy apples to get the mottled effect) and when the gingerbread is nearly baked remove it from the oven, sprinkle the crushed sweets into the window gaps and return to the oven.  The sweets should melt and form a thin window pane.

Before assembling the house use icing to stick giant chocolate buttons onto the roof panels to create a tiled effect.  For a house of this size I needed two packets of giant chocolate buttons.  I don't have any photos of the assembly process as I was too preoccupied trying to hold all the components together until the icing was dry enough to do the job on its own.

As well as the buttons and the boiled sweets I also used some silver sugar balls and honeycomb to decorate the house and as I'd already made rather too much icing I used the extra as added snow around the joints on the house.  I also had extra gingerbread which I rolled out and cut out into stars before baking and icing.

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