Monday, 17 December 2012

Gingerbread House: Let's get started on the Christmas Bake-along!

Time to get started.
Gingerbread House is the first cake to create and the dough for this needs to be made in advance and given a rest before it is used ( I know the feeling).
You will need to make the ginger gingerbread AND the chocolate version, recipes in my previous post, as we are going to do some fancypants intarsia. Oooer missus!
You can make the dough the night before, or on the day you intend to bake.

Get the butter out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit so it is soft enough to rub into your flour mix.
While it is warming up, organise your equipment :
 kitchen scales, mixing bowl, small bowls for weighing ingredients/separating eggs, knife, wooden spoon for mixing, whisk/hand mixer, squeezy icing bottles/bag and nozzle, cling film/plastic bags,  cutters, rolling pin, paper, paper scissors/knife, baking paper, flat baking trays, sieve, a sharp pencil/pen, ruler, pastry board/flat surface for rolling out the dough.
I am assuming you are already wearing your silly festive apron. I know I am.

Easiest way to make the dough is using a food processor, but it can be done by hand.
Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, cocoa ( for the chocolate version).
Cut your butter into small pieces, add to the flour mix and rub in with our fingers/process until mix looks like fine breadcrumbs.
 Add sugar, syrup, egg yolk to the mix and knead by hand / process until it forms a firm smooth dough.
If it looks a bit dry add a little milk, if it looks a bit soft add a little more flour.
Dust lightly with icing sugar (so it doesn't stick) and put into a plastic bag/ clingfilm, place in fridge for AT LEAST 30 mins before using.
I make extra batches of dough so I can make plenty of gingerbread cookies as well as the house and the base it stands on.

While your dough is cooling in the fridge

Make your ROYAL ICING:
Using the left-over egg whites, for each egg white use 4.5 oz of icing sugar.
Whisk the egg white, After a bit of whisking, start to add the icing sugar, a little at a time, keep whisking until the mix forms small peaks- firm enough so when you lift some on the whisk it stays on! This wants to be thick enough to act as glue, liquid enough for you to pipe it,  you may need slightly less icing sugar dependant on the amount of egg white from your eggs.
This mix, if put into piping bottles/covered in cling film in a bowl will store in the fridge for up to THREE DAYS. Plenty of time for it to be used for decorating your gingerbread house and cookies from the left-over dough.
If you want to colour or flavour your icing, do it now, separating the icing into small batches. You could add vanilla, cocoa, coffee, lemon juice, ginger...whatever takes your fancy!

Make your paper TEMPLATES:
Using squared paper is the easiest, just draw them up and cut them out, sharp pencil/fine pen for most accurate results.
 From your paper-
Cut  a 9.5 cms SQUARE .This will make the sides of the house.
Cut a rectangle 11cms x 15 cms. This is the roof.
Draw another 9.5 cm square. Draw a perpendicular  total length 21.5 cms  high ( this is why squared paper makes it simpler) halfway across the square, this is the full height of the front/back panel. Mark the top point of the line and draw lines down to the corners of the square, so you have a square with a pointy triangle atop it.
These three templates are all you need make your house.

Get your DECORATIONS ready:
Sort out the things you are going to use for the House- roof tiles- I use Jumbo Buttons- trees, little people etc.

Sort your CUTTERS:
Get out the cutters you are going to use for the house and cookies, make sure they are clean and ready to go.

Wash up anything you have used to mix up the dough and finished with, clear a nice work space and get all your bits and bobs organised on it.

Put the kettle on- this should be a fun bake, so get relaxed and ready to enjoy, then we shall move on to  CUTTING, BAKING & BUILDING THE HOUSE.

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