Friday, December 5, 2014

Gingerbread house

250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
To Decorate -
200g bag flaked almonds
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
Selection of sweets of your choice

Equipment - Plywood Base, Chopping board; Cardboard cut-outs - Two 13cm x 19cm rectangles (roof), Two 11.5cm x 16cm rectangles (side walls), Two 16cm x 19cm rectangles (front and back), each trimmed at 1 short end to form two 10cm-high gables.

How to make:
Step 1: Heat oven to 190°C. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl, then stir in the butter mixture to make a stiff dough. If it won’t quite come together, add a tiny splash of water.
Step 2: Put a sheet of baking paper on your work surface and roll about one quarter of the dough to the thickness of two $1 coins. Cut out one of the sections, then slide the gingerbread, still on its baking paper, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels. Any leftover dough can be cut into Christmas trees, if you like.
Step 3: Pick out the most intact flaked almonds and gently poke them into the roof sections, pointy-end first, to look like roof tiles. Bake all the sections for 12 minutes or until firm and just a little darker at the edges. Leave to cool for a few minutes to firm up, then trim around the templates again to give clean, sharp edges. Leave to cool completely.
Step 4: Put the egg whites in a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, then stir to make a thick, smooth icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium nozzle. Pipe thin slivers of icing along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Use a small bowl to support the walls from the inside, then allow to dry, ideally for a few hours.
Step 5: Once dry, remove the supports and fix the roof panels on. The angle is steep so you may need to hold these on firmly for a few mins until the icing starts to dry. Dry completely, ideally overnight. To decorate, pipe a little icing along the length of 20 mini chocolate fingers and stick these lengthways onto the side walls of the house. Use three, upright, for the door.
Step 6: Using the icing, stick sweets around the door and on the front of the house. Pipe a little icing around the top. If you’ve made gingerbread trees, decorate these now as well. You can lay a winding path of sweets as well. Your gingerbread house is finished, and will be edible for about a week.

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