It's been a while since I made the time to create a gingerbread house. I simply adore them and this year wanted to recreate the stunning version found in December's issue of Good Taste magazine. I just love this look, particularly the adorable use of Freckles for roof tiles, dusting with a blanket of icing sugar snow.
I used my own gingerbread recipe (nothing comes close to it, and yes, I am sharing it at the end of this post). It's cakey and not too sweet and just busting with spice and fragrance. Love it. I made the sheets (omitting the stained glass window at the front of the house) but I also made three extra (large) batches of the gingerbread so I could do up a mass of gingerbread people, too.
It took my half a day to do this - and that was only the baking part.
As a result, I lost my baking rhythm a little, and underbaked the front and back pieces of the house slightly, making them a tad softer than they should be. Not only that, Good Taste recommended using melted white chocolate to put the house together (DO NOT do this - unless you are assembling the cake in a deep freeze or are prepared to stand there for 4 hours until it sets) and coupled with a heavier than normal roof, the front house panel began to bow.
You can just imagine us all screaming and running as the roof slid off and the back panel of the house hit the floor. AMAZINGLY it didn't break, but the Orchard Royal Icing I used (also recommended by Good Taste - never again!!!) shattered off and I had to re-pipe a lot of the design while the panels were standing UP - not easy to do, and lots of wobbly lines as a result.
In the kerfuffle, other parts of the design got knocked off and had to suffer wonky touch-ups, AND the house now looks skewif from the front because of the bulging front panel... oh, it was a challenge this house.
The next day, I re-baked the roof (twice as thin, twice as light, attached it with icing this time, and it was all good). On went the chimney and the freckles and a dusting of icing sugar - et voilà - here she is. A tad battered and with a poor girl gingerbread standing sentry, hurriedly iced with some store bought fudge icing.
I'll post photos of my snowy white lemon icing piping soon - I have a massive of gingerbread people to get through - but stay tuned!
Tania's Eye-Rolling Gingerbread
6 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
230g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
6 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
4 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper (must be fresh)
1 teaspoon salt (not flakes)
2 large eggs
1 cup golden syrup
Sift together flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses.
Add flour mixture; combine on low speed and don’t over-knead. Divide dough in half, set between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to between 0.5 and 1cm thickness. Refrigerate for at least an hour (the dough will darken and firm, and spice flavours will be enhanced).
Heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Cut dough into shapes and transfer to lined baking sheets. Bake until firm but NOT darkened, about 20 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.
Ice the gingerbread with lemon icing - lemon juice and icing sugar. It's a must.