Last year I really wanted to make some gingerbread houses for the boys to decorate but things got so hectic I didn't get any time to do it. This year I was determined to fit it in along with all the other birthday/Xmas preparations there are to do. Also my friend Leigh had made some gingerbread houses last year and again this year with her children and nephews so seeing how well that went, I felt even more determined and inspired to make sure that my boys got to experience it too.
As I was on night shift, (and have only just come off the things so am rather vague doing this post), I had to make the gingerbread itself when I got home from work to leave it in the fridge for the day. They say this step is imperative to the success of the gingerbread so both the gingerbread and me slept for some of the day. When I got up after only a few hours sleep I rolled out the dough and cut out the templates for the house. It is really quite warm here in NZ so I had to work fast and get creative putting the dough onto the baking sheet as it softened so quickly making it too soft to transfer the normal way. The mixture baked very well and although I overcooked a few pieces, it made a biscuit that seems to have the right texture for a gingerbread house and is not only crisp and able to stand up to the rigours of all those lollies, but tastes fantastic too. I did add in a few spices to my mix though as I think it adds a complexity to the flavour of the gingerbread.
Gingerbread Recipe (adapted from Donna Hay)
7 1/2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger (20 mls)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 2/3 cups golden syrup
Place half of all the ingredients into a food processor and process until they come together into a dough. Remove the dough from the processor, then process the remaining ingredients. Combine both lots of dough and knead lightly to bring it all together. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, press it into discs, wrap each piece in cling film and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before using.
Roll out and cut into the shapes you want then bake 180 C for around 10-15 mins....try not to forget what went in when as I did.
Remove to a cooling rack to cool.
For the size of my templates this dough made enough for two rather large houses.
|Cooling some of the pieces|
|Assembly using cans for support....this step was much easier than I thought it would be!|
|Finished unadorned houses waiting for some love|
|Getting down to the business of decorating the houses. I had to help Harry with the piping of the Royal Icing but otherwise he did the whole thing himself!|
|Harry with his finished product|
|From all angles....|
|Reubs with his finished product...he loved making these!|
|Again form all angles|
So the boys had a wonderful time doing these and I coped remarkably well after no sleep AND I didn't even try to intervene in the design only doing as I was directed by Harry. Reubs did the whole of his on his own including the piping. We will definitely be making these again next Xmas and I might even try putting in 'stained glass windows' too. Thanks Leigh for the push/inspiration to get this happening!