Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gingerbread House - Christmas Baking Project #1

***Extra belated Christmas post, better late than never though! Also, an update on my family's situation with the Queensland floods in this blog post.***

        Who knew building a house yourself was such hard work! And yes that is a cow in the front of my house. What better way to kick off the holiday baking season than to bake and construct my own gingerbread house. I don't recall seeing these around nowadays as much as I used to when I was growing up. Or maybe because as I grew up I paid less attention to them, until now that is. I have always wanted to make my own gingerbread house, even putting it down on a cooking/baking 'to do' list of sorts. Now I can tick another item off the list! Yay!

        Say hello to my new baby! Isn't she purtyy? She had been sitting in a box for a few months now, only being pulled out once to make a failed brioche recipe from Bourke Street Bakery. It's tricky sharing a kitchen and pantry with Mum while I still have the luxury of living at home. I don't have a permanent spot to put my baby at the moment. It was definately worth the spend though because I have given her a huge workout with everything I had been making for Christmas since this gingerbread house. Everything is just so much easier, and faster too!

        Recipe from the Taste website (I'd say follow the original quantity if it's your first time, I wanted a big house so did 1 and a half of the quantities given, double was actually too much for my mixer bowl)
• 250g butter, at room temperature
• 155g (3/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
• 80ml (1/3 cup) golden syrup
• 2 eggs
• 750g (5 cups) plain flour, sifted
• 1 1/2 tbs ground ginger
• 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 1/4 tsp ground cloves
• 2 egg whites
• 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
• 420g (2 2/3 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
• 200g dark chocolate melts

        Sift plain flour, ground ginger, bicarbonate of soda and ground cloves into a large bowl.

Beat together the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar until pale and creamy.

Gradually beat in the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually stire in the flour, ginger, bicarb soda and cloves. Knead until smooth.

        To make things easier I divided my dough into as many balls as I had walls and roof pieces. Wrap the dough and chill in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes. I left mine overnight and found that the dough hardened quite a bit so had to quickly microwave each for about 20 seconds to soften up before rolling out.

        It does say to roll the dough out to 5mm thick however I think I end up rolling mine out much thinner which gives me some rather fragile pieces to work with once baked. I think in this case thicker is better. I made my own template for the house, however I should have also built a template house first just to gauge how massive it would be. Oh and pizza slicers make cutting straight lines so much easier.

This was suppose to be the front of my gingerbread house.

Leftover dough makes for gingerbread men!

        For the 'stained glass' windows I was suppose to use boiled lollies which I would have baked in the oven to melt and form the windows. I couldn't find any so made some toffee to pour into the windows instead, bad mistake because it sweats and leaks!

        For the 'frosting' beat the egg whites until foamy and then beat in the lemon juice and icing sugar. To glue the house together I actually melt the dark chocolate melts - this was a tip from the recipe and it worked a treat.

Decorate the walls as you wish, I've done such a dodgy job.

Roof slabs, full of freckles!

        I had to transform my back wall into the front wall because my front wall cracked on me.

        And the front wall becomes the back wall, see the dark chocolate where I tried to glue my house back together? You're also meant to trim the edges but I knew mine were just too fragile so thought I would just make do with my slighly uneven edges. I'd just fill in the gaps with chocolate =D.

        All canned products in the pantry come in handy when it comes to assembling the walls together.

The house crumbles on me again! Some dark chocolate will fix that up.

        And we have a standing gingerbread house! I use the extra frosting to make it look as if it had been snowing on my house. And to cover up any mistakes/accidents.

        A candy cane picket fence, a Christmas tree from the Reject Shop, and a few toy animal candy dispensers from Big W and my Christmas landscape is complete. I used some leftover fondant I had to 'glue' down all my decorations on the cake board. I had something else in mind when I started the project but this is what I ended up with. I was thinking an Aussie Christmas complete with a swimming pool in the backyard, unfortunately my scaling and proportions are a bit off.

        My back yard, look Santa is lurking around, the sheep aint happy. Tree is used to hide all the mistakes.

My awesome picket fence!

        Look I even have a little Peugeot in the driveway. I wrapped it up in cellophane and took it into work to put on display. Mum was a little upset I disappeared with it before she managed to have a proper look at the completed work because I was working on it late into the night. Everyone was blown away when they saw it, I was annoyed at all my little imperfections (things that I noticed but no one else seemed to have). I'm glad I tackled this project, wether I'd do it again this Christmas I'm not sure, maybe on a smaller scale.
        I came back to work after Christmas to find all my windows had disintegrated, one of the guys poked at it and a piece of the roof crumbled. Then someone snuck by and opened it up to eat the broken off piece, and it all went downhill from there. I eventually broke it apart and binned it - was a sad moment indeed. Until next Christmas I guess.


mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Wow, it is large! Perhaps something smaller for next year? And we always find more imperfections in what we make than those who eat it =)

(And I remember when I used to live at home that all my baking stuff lived in a plastic tub on the floor of my bedroom... =p)

MelbaToast said...

We had a whole Gingerbread House Village at work between the holiday's. SO tasty!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Your gingerbread house is gorgeous! Love the decorations and aww what a pity the house was desecrated in your absence :( It was very pretty while it lasted!

Anonymous said...

Hey Angie, congrats for being brave enough to give it a go and don't giving up when walls started to crack! BTW, cool Kitchen Aid!

OohLookBel said...

Your gingerbread house is just beautiful (like the KitchenAid!). The walls are so straight and the decorations are colourfully delicious :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Angie, glad to read about the update of your family up North in Queensland. My thought and prayer is with them. I love the details to attention you put in making the gingerbread house :)

Richard Elliot said...

What a mission to build a ginger bread house!

I love your new Kitchen Aid, I really want one as it makes baking so much faster. I don't even have an electric whisk so I have to do everything by hand and it takes ages!

I'm going to be baking tomorrow night for the QLD Flood Appeal morning tea we have in the office on Wednesday to raise money.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Fabulous gingerbread house Angie and I love the little car too (we have a Peugeot :P ). I always find pulling it apart the hardest. they usually take so long that I can't bring myself to pull it apart! :P

Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said...

What a great gingerbread house and very jealous of the mulberry kitchenaid! Sorry to hear about your family's houses, but very glad to hear they are safe and well.

Maria said...

Haha very cute!

Two fit and fun gals said...

nice kitchen aid!