Tag Archives: gingerbread

Big Ben in gingerbread and other festive delights

I had three teenage girls in my kitchen this week-end, exchanging geeky (chemistry!) jokes and spilling laughter and edible glitter all around the place! They used our recipe from last year and wanted to build a gingerbread house, but being ambitious and competitive young things, they decided on Big Ben as a template! So here it is: Big Ben in gingerbread and sweets.

This will make a fantastic Christmas centre piece and is now displayed in prime position in our house…

We also baked and decorated lots of gingerbread shapes to give as presents in hampers and boxes. Same recipe just shorter baking time. Because the recipe has masses of honey and spices, those are really delicious as well as decorative and none of us seem to get enough of them at tea-time… They make great dunkers!IMG_3188IMG_3182

IMG_3178IMG_3180IMG_3189Well done girls! I am very proud of you and you are very welcome to come back next year! Buckingham palace this time?!

My own playhouse for Christmas- this month idea!

The making of a gingerbread house is part of my personal Christmas fantasy and I love involving the children – plus they have more patience than me!

So last sunday, Eleonor and Clarisse made this lovely gingerbread cottage, in our homely new kitchen. It was nice to see these two busy bees working around their hive while I pottered around, cup of tea in hand, directing – vaguely- and styling for the photo. Afterwards, the kitchen was a jolly mess of icing sugar snow, coloured vermicelli and ginger crumbs but their “house” looked very inviting and appetising!

We decided on the easiest of templates: two rectangles for the roof sides and two triangles for the back and front of the house. Both of equal size of course.

A quick search on the internet gave us the perfect recipe.

Note: The dough was still soft when it came out of the oven but it stiffened up while cooling so don’t overbake it  or it becomes too hard to eat!

Ingredients list:

  • Self-raising flour 425g- I used chesnut flour for one third and the result was light and delicious but I had to add 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
  • Pinch of salt
  • All spices (or 4 Spices) 1 Tbsp
  • cinnamon 1 tsp
  • Mace 1 tsp
  • Ginger 1 tsp
  • Honey 170 g
  • Soft brown sugar 375 g
  • Butter 115 g
  • lemon zest, 1
  • 1 whole egg plus one yolk – keep the extra white for the royal icing later!
  • 1 Tbsp of treacle

Heat the oven to 150°.

Mix all the dry ingredients into a big bowl.

Melt the butter, honey, sugar and treacle on low heat. Let it cool first, then mix it in the dry mix and add the eggs and lemon zest. Beat well until you get a pliable dough.

Reserve in the fridge while you cut the template on greaseproof paper. Don’t forget to line the baking trays. I use a reusable Silpat sheet on mine.

Spread the dough directly on grease proof paper or silpat and roll it down to 1 cm. Then with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out the templated shapes and and remove anything around them. Do not even try to transfer them onto trays, they need to be cut exactly where they will bake!

Bake for 30 minutes at 150°. The pieces will raise a little and take a nice brown colour. Don’t worry if they get a bit out of shape, you can always trim later.

Let them cool down before cutting in any windows or adjusting the angles.

Prepare the royal icing with 300g of icing sugar and half the egg white. Beat with an electric blender until very fluffy and silky. Add some egg white if the mix is too dry. Or add sugar if too runny. This will be your house binding mix! And the decorating snow as well.

First, choose a cake tray or any flat dish and stick the base of the two triangles for the front and back. Get a child to hold them while you stick the two sides of the roof down. Proceed slowly and hold until it is staying in place. Then spread the rest of the icing on the roof and decorate with sweets, jellies or sugar shapes.

This is the best bit so take your time and enjoy your little masterpiece! Next year you will build a castle….