This weeks Bake Off left me with a challenge (as it invariably does). In the three rounds they made savoury crackers and crispbreads, chocolate teacakes and a gingerbread structure. I made the gruyere and poppy seed crackers less than two weeks ago and I did a post on chocolate teacakes back in July so I didn't want to repeat them. Therefore there was nothing left to do but bite the gingerbread bullet and build a house.
I haven't gone for anything quite so grand as the structures on the show (Colosseum, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace), I decided not to dive headfirst into grand scales of biscuit architecture but to put together a simple house. I made it haunted as Halloween is approaching and it's definitely too early to be decorating festive cottages.
This is the first gingerbread house I have ever made so it's pretty rough around the edges but it was fun to make. I carried it into work this morning and left it in the kitchen and it was demolished by lunchtime.
As much as I love cake decorating I'm not that great at sugarcraft. I can work wonders with a piping bag or a palette knife but making little figures and such is not my forte. I attempted one tiny spider out of black fondant for this and it looked a little like one that had been whacked with a magazine so the poor fellow got eaten instead. At that point I threw out all ambitions involving little sugarpaste ghosts and skeletons and drizzled royal icing all over it instead.
Oddly, the template I used for the house did not come with a roof so I improvised by melting dark chocolate, spreading it out over greaseproof paper, chilling in the fridge and cutting in to roof slats. This would have worked better had I created a support beam for the slats with extra gingerbread as the chocolate soften not long after leaving the fridge. It's all better in hindsight right? Rather than make ANOTHER gingerbread house that would possibly look better but also take up my entire Monday night, I present to you my (rather structurally sound but messy) gingerbread haunted house.
400g golden syrup
500g unsalted butter
1.2kg plain flour
20g bicarbonate of soda
40g ground ginger
For the caramel 'glue':
250g caster sugar
Royal Icing, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F and line two large baking trays with baking paper.
- In a pan melt the sugar, golden syrup and butter. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl and add the melted butter mix. Stir until combined then, using your hands, flatten the dough down onto the baking tray to approximately 5mm deep and transfer to the baking trays (you will have to divide the dough into pieces). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until brown at the edges.
- While the gingerbread is still warm cut round the templates (I used this one from Martha Stewart) and leave to cool.
- To make the glue for the frame, in a pan gently heat the caster sugar with 50ml water to make a syrup. When thick and sticky, turn the heat down to minimum and start to construct the frame using the syrup to glue together the gingerbread strips.
If you don't want to build a house this is an excellent recipe for regular gingerbread biscuits. It reminds me the gingerbread men my Mum would buy me from the bakery.