Last week I made a Gingerbread House. I'm not sure what possessed me. I've never made one before but I was planning a pre-Christmas lunch for my sister and her family at which there would be five children so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Have you ever made a Gingerbread House? It's not for the faint-hearted or the time-poor. Unfortunately, the result was somewhat less than perfect as you can see. Walls cracked, the roof collapsed (more than once) and we used twice as much icing as recommended in a vain attempt to salvage what we could.
The thing is, I approached the task of making a Gingerbread House as I approach most things in life in life - full of enthusiasm, optimistic (often unrealistic) about timeframes and flying by the seat of my pants. I didn't read the construction instructions properly and I tried to do everything from making the gingerbread, to decorating and constructing the house all in one evening.
On the up side, it did remind me of a few of my better qualities too. I had a lot of fun once I realised perfection was not the aim. Henry and I laughed hysterically as I scrambled to catch pieces as they fell while still holding other pieces that had not yet set and I didn't give up even after my roofing disaster, in fact, I worked my way around the problem by constructing some roofing beams using bamboo skewers and overlaying them with textured ice-cream wafers I had in the cupboard.
It may be the ugliest Gingerbread House ever created but I still think that the time spent making it was time well spent. If you'd like to give it a go there are some good instructions here and here and if you'd prefer to stick with Gingerbread Men (so much easier to control!) here's my Gingerbread recipe.
3 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
6 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 cup dark muscovado sugar
185 grams butter, chopped and softened
1/2 molasses (or golden syrup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl with the sugar.
2. Add butter and mix with an electric hand mixer until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Whisk molasses and eggs together and mix until combined.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. If the mixture is too sticky to work with add a little more flour but not too much. The dough should still be moist and should come together in a nice smooth shiny ball.
5. Cut dough in half, press into a flat disc, wrap in cling-wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 mins.
6. Remove from refrigerator and pre-heat your oven to 180C/ 375F.
7. Roll dough out between two pieces of baking paper until the dough is roughly 5mm in thickness.
8. Use your favourite cutters to make shapes and lay them on prepared baking trays and return to the fridge for 15mins.
9. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your shapes, or until firm.
10. Cool completely before decorating with royal icing, silver cachous etc.