Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to make a gingerbread house

I've always been a bit of an overachiever but this past week, I seriously outdid myself. I made two gingerbread houses in one week. Even saying that sentence exhausts me but oh what fun I had! This is not one of those posts where I promise (and cross my heart) that this is a simple recipe that you can throw together in 20 minutes flat blah blah blah. Be warned; baking a gingerbread house is not for the faint-hearted. These cute little edible cottages exist (and are made) for the sole purpose of satisfying your inner child. Who hasn't dreamed of being Hansel or Gretel and discovering a huge edible house made of sweets? No one, that's who. It's one of the fairytales we can actually come close to creating in our kitchens. And it's even more fun if you prepare the pieces and then get your kids involved (if you don't have your own, borrow some) and let your imaginations run wild. If I made one of these again, I'm definitely going to make a seaside gingerbread cottage - more South African you cannot get! Oh and did I mention that it makes a show-stopper of a table centrepiece for Christmas dinner? Put a candle or fairy lights inside for some twinkle and you're good to go. So, I do urge you to make one (just one!) if not for any other reason but so you can say you did. 

 Cedric the Snowman showing off his posh palace

Styling and photography by Katelyn Williams

Gingerbread house
Serves 10-12

150g butter
½ cup demarera sugar
2/3 cup golden syrup
1 egg
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger

4 cups icing sugar
3 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
variety of sweets to decorate

Preheat oven to 180C. Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in an electric mixer and beat for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the flour, cornflour, baking power, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and mix until a smooth dough forms. Add a little more flour if necessary. Roll the dough out to ½ cm thick and using the templates, cut the parts of the gingerbread house out with a knife. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until dark golden.
To make the icing, place the sugar, whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a mixer and beat for 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Place the icing in a piping ready to assemble the house. To assemble the house, cut each gingerbread sheet in half. Set aside four halves (two for the walls and two for the roof). From the remaining two halves, cut two even triangles from the top to create the side walls. Secure one of the rectangles and one of the side walls to a cake board with the icing and allow to dry. Support the walls against a tall jar or vase. Secure the other walls using the icing and allow to dry completely before the next step. Using icing, secure each of the roof pieces to the sides of the house and allow to dry completely.
Use the icing to decorate the rest of the house using sweets. 

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