Saturday, 10 December 2011

Gingerbread House

Last year I tried to make a gingerbread house, and it didn't work *super* well because it was too house-shaped.  Most templates on the interwebs have very steep roofs and short walls, as this makes balancing easier.  When I drew my template for this year, I made it steepy too.

Yaay shoddy MS Paint diagrams are back!
The numbers are measurements in centimetres.  Cut the shapes out of squared paper to make them easy to measure.

Gingerbread House
You Will Need: (Squared) paper, pencil and rubber, ruler, scissors; one batch of dough to make pepparkakor; greaseproof paper, baking trays, rolling pin, cooling rack; teatray, tinfoil; scales, small bowl, whisk, dinner knife, piping bag (or a freezer bag with one corner cut off to make a tiny hole), wooden skewers; cake decorations of choice.

1) Using my recipe from last year, make the pepparkakor dough.  While it is resting in the fridge for at least half an hour, draw out the templates.  The squared paper will make it much easier to get straight edges.  Cut out one of each shape.
2) Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.  On a floured surface, roll out half the dough until it is about 3mm thick.  Cutting around the templates, make two of each shape.  Save all the remaining dough clingfilmed in the fridge.
3) Cover the baking trays in greaseproof paper and lay the shapes out on the trays with plenty of room to spare.  If necessary do them in two or three batches.
4) Bake for 10-15 minutes until really golden and getting dark around the edges.  This ensures stiffness.
5) When they are ready, take the shapes from the oven and allow to cool for a good while on the trays, before transferring to cool completely on the rack.  Go and do something productive for half an hour to make sure they are completely cool.
6) Select where you want to put your house, and make sure that the teatray can sit there without any danger of being bumped into.  Cover the teatray in a single layer of tinfoil, sellotaping the foil to the back of the tray at the edges.
7) Make the royal icing to stick the house together:  whisk an eggwhite in a small bowl until frothy.  Incorporate eight ounces of icing sugar a little at a time until really thick and glossy.
8) Assemble the house, using the piping bag or erzatz piping bag to draw straight 'foundations' of icing on the tinfoil for the walls and gables.  Using volunteers, wooden skewers broken to size or a combination of both, hold up the walls and roof until you are sure you can leave the house alone.  This should be at least 3 hours to be on the safe side.
9) Using more icing, stick cake decorations, sweets and so forth to the roof and gable ends of the house.  If you wish it is safe to involve small children at this point.  If you have a really steady hand you may be able to pipe icing icicles down from the roof. 
10) Place the house in its eventual home, and scatter icing sugar over for snow if desired. 

You may notice that you have some dough left over.  Well noticed!  Save all the bits, because if you feel in the need for something a bit more ambitious, skip stages 9 and 10 and come with me to the next post for a Gingerbread Stave'll need all your remaining dough.  If you don't want to do that, you could make more happy shapes to surround your house with or to hang on the tree threaded with ribbon.

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