Saturday, 24 November 2012

Snowy Gingerbread Cottage


The weather these last few days has been truly frightful. As I had some time on my hands - and absolutely no inclination to venture out anywhere - it gave me the chance to do some baking. With Christmas fast approaching (is it really a month to Christmas Eve?) I also wanted to have another go at making gingerbread. And this time with the objective of trying my hand at a Gingerbread Cottage for the first time.


A couple of months ago, I bought a Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter set from Wilkinsons, as I thought it might make it a little easier to manage. The set includes cutters for the walls, ends and roof sides, with some additional ones for angels, stars, trees, gingerbread men etc. I suspect it's like many that you can get on the high street. The cutters are a little flimsy - particularly the larger ones - but while this is definitely not an heirloom set, they did the job for me.



The gingerbread recipe I used is in the current edition of the BBC Good Food Magazine, but you can also find it on line here. Be warned, it makes a lot of gingerbread! Not a problem for me, as I love it and am gradually working my way round the family to convert them to its gingery delights (Ben being the only one to have fallen for its charms at the moment). But even so, I had enough to make the gingerbread house, and army of little gingerbread men, some other Christmassy shapes, along with a few more gingerbread spoons using silicone spoon moulds. I still managed to have about a quarter of the mix left over.


The recipe gives a much more manageable dough than I found with the one in the new Great British Bake Off book, Showstoppers (see my post here), which tasted great but was a nightmare to handle. The GBBO one is made using a method which melts the sugar and syrup together, then the dry ingredients are stirred in. The BBC one I used for the cottage involves cutting cold butter into the flour in a processor, then adding the other dry ingredients, and finally the eggs and syrup to mix. I found this easier and the resulting dough was definitely easier to handle.


For the cottage walls, the dough is rolled out quite thickly (the recipe suggests the height of two stacked one pound coins), but I think mine was a little thick. It was still a little soft after cooling, so I put it back in the oven for five more minutes. That seemed to do the trick. It is also amazing how much the dough spreads as it cooks, so it is important to trim it to size again after it has been out of the oven for a few minutes but is still warm and soft.

Soup tins come in very handy!
To stick the cottage together and decorate it, I used the royal icing recipe as well. Now, the only time I've used royal icing before was to slather it on over a Christmas Cake. I've certainly never piped with it and so that was a lesson in itself for me. It was very thick - almost like trying to pipe cement. But I guess that is what you need to do the job. Piping some of the finer details was a little tricky, especially to get clean breaks in piping, and it is a bit skewiffy, but now I have had one attempt, I think I could make a better job next time.


I've got to be honest though -  I wasn't really going for neatness this time. Just hoping that the cottage sides and roof would stay up! The chimney was cut from cutters in the Wilkinson set - I don't think they are quite in proportion, or fit properly, so I ended up having to use big splodges of icing to fill in the gaps. At least with icing you can always pretend it's a blizzard!


For the little gingerbread men, I rolled the dough much thinner. As a result, not only did they cook really quickly (about 6 minutes) they have a lovely crisp texture. I had lots left over, and have other plans for them!


Anyway, I guess this marks the start of Christmas preparations in our house. I used a little set of led lights in the photos above and below, and now that they are out and lit up, I can't bear to put them away again. Next week will see us celebrate Mike's birthday, and then we'll really get down to preparing for Christmas.I love the build up, planning and anticipation.


I can't wait to see how Sam reacts to the decorations and tree. I suspect we will need the baby equivalent of an armed guard to keep him away from the baubles and lights!

Susie

**Update**

As kindly suggested by Karen of Lavender and Lovage, I am entering this into this month's first birthday challenge for Teatime Treats. Karen runs the challenge jointly, with Kate of What Kate Baked. This month's theme is a celebratory one, and as the very first Teatime Treats was based on ginger, then this may well be very apt. The round up will be published at the end of the month on Karen's lovely blog, Lavender and Lovage.

37 comments:

  1. Love it! Gingerbread houses are one of my favourite things about Christmas. Your snow piping is beautiful and lovely photos too. The first year I made one I forgot to cut out the door, then last year I made the gingerbread but didn't have time to stick it together, so better luck this year for me I hope!

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    1. Hi Kim - thanks for your lovely comments. Hope it goes well for you then! :)

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  2. this is just the prettiest gingerbread house ive ever seen, where is that 'house' cutter from?!

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    1. Hi Em, thank you - that's very sweet.

      The cutter is from Wilkinsons - here is a link to their website:

      http://www.wilkinsonplus.com/baking/wilko-gingerbread-house-and-christmas-cutter-set-stainless-steel-11-piece/invt/0318196/

      Unfortunately, it says it's out of stock at the moment, but there are lots of different types around. I think Lakeland do one, and I'm pretty sure somewhere like Tesco or Sainsbury's will do one.

      Hope that helps. :)

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  3. This is brilliant Susie! Fantastic for a first time, hope mine turns out as good.

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  4. I am going to do one.....soon I hope. Amazing that Wilkinson's have the cutters, I never would have thought to look there. You are a skilled icer, I hope I am up to the challenge!

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    1. Thanks Laura - that's very kind. I'm pleased you like it. :)

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  5. Wow Susie - what a beautiful gingerbread house! It is gorgeous and so much prettier with just white icing instead off all of the usual sweets that are added. I would love it if you added this to our first birthday tea time treats challenge, as the theme is celebration cakes, and that is a stunning celebration cake of sorts! Lovely, no, magical! Karen

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  6. Sorry for terrible typos, on iPad and can't see what I am typing! Karen

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    1. Aww, thanks Karen. I have updated the post to include TTT - thank you for inviting me :)

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  7. Love the gingerbread house! Thanks also for the pumpkin cupcake recipe. Not sure my email about them got through but I referenced you in my blog last weekend :-) (Emma at a-waywiththefairycakes.blogspot.co.uk)

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    1. Hi Emma - thanks for your comment. Yes I saw your cupcakes - you posted on my 'Contact Me' page and I responded there. They are lovely and I'm so glad you liked them. I'll post a comment on your blog in case you don't pick this one up. :)

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  8. I love it! It's so cute and turned out really well. I've seen the set before and wondered whether I'd need it, or just to get the ruler out and cut it myself?! Xx

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    1. Thanks Miss C - you probably don't need it in reality, but it does give you an idea of the shapes to cut. But then again, you can easily make a paper template to do that, too. :) x

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  9. It looks great! I really would like to try making a gingerbread house this year,my kids would love it. :)

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    1. Thanks Paula - my boys definitely have loved tearing it down (and eating it!) :)

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  10. You are so clever. Good tips about the dough - now do you eat this or do you keep in purely for decoration?

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    1. Thanks - so pleased you found it helpful.

      It is being eaten as I type. The recipe says that the house will remain edible for a week,and after that can still be displayed. I found it going a bit soft after a day just left out as it is, so I demolished it and stored the pieces in a tin. The boys are helping themselves whenever they feel like a piece! :)

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  11. There is something I can't explain about gingerbread houses - they just make me feel warm and fuzzy! Your little house is lovely.

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    1. Thanks CC, I know what you mean. There is definitely something quaint and cosy about them. I remember seeing a Food Network Programme about one of the gingerbread house competitions in the US - some the entires were absolutely incredible (and adorable!). :)

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  12. What a delightful house, and I love the icing, so pretty. I'm hopeless with icing bags so cover my houses with oddles of sweets which of course delights small children.
    In my last two posts I have featured gingerbread house, including some books and moulds, do have a look as it might be interesting to you.

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    1. Thank you Jude - pleased you like it. I did check out your blogposts - they are really helpful. Especially your guide to books. And your cottage was so pretty! :)

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  13. I saw this on Twitter this morning - so beautiful! It falls under the heading of 'things I will never do myself because the emotional trauma would not be worth it', so I am especially appreciative of other peoples' efforts. Well done you!

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    1. * blushing madly * Thank you - that's really lovely. I'm sure you would have no problems with one! :)

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  14. WOW! What a LOVELY & festive gingerbread house! You've even the cutter! That's amazing! The icing is so beautifully done ! Simply gorgeous & well done Susie!

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    1. Thank you Kit - glad you like it. Thanks for visiting! :)

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  15. That is a complete masterpiece Susie, I applaud your patience, but it has paid of beautifully and I reckon is one of the most adorable gingerbread cottages I've seen yet. Good tip on which recipe makes for easier handling too.

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    1. Thanks Choclette - that's a lovely comment. :)

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  16. Susie that is amazing! It turned out so great and I love the way you decorated it too! so fun and festive!

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  17. Iv just bought this kit.i cannot work it out :-\ and before giving up and drawing my own template i thought id google it for tips.hopefully u can help!lol the 2 main cutters,1 for ends one for roof/sides....i cnt get my head round it.do i need to cut it to make sides?they just look too long to be the sides??!!any advise much appreciated!! :-)

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    1. Hi Fay, thanks for you comment and visit to my blog.

      I know exactly what you mean - when I made mine the roof and sides just seemed as they were going to be too long - so I cut them in half after they were baked.

      This gave me a square cottage, which I think worked well.

      The only problem then - which I realised when trying to stick it together - was that the chimney pieces were out of proportion and were too big. I don't think that they fitted the angle of the roof very well, either as there were some gaps along the bottom. I just filled these with royal icing so it looked like snow. But I think this would have happened anyway, even with the longer sides, as it is the gable end pieces that dictate the angles of the slope of the roof - if you see what I mean?

      If I was making it again though, I think I'd pay a bit more attention to the chimney shape and try trimming it a bit to get a better fit.

      Hope that helps a bit and, if you have time, I'd love to know how you get on.

      Susie

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    2. thanks for replying,i have read (since buying it!) that the pieces dont fit together very well.im gonna do a practise run this aft and think il cut the sides and roof like you did.il keep you posted!!fay :-)

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    3. Hope it works out for you! Good luck! :)

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  18. It's always been my dream to make a cookie house. But, i am really afraid that it will fall apart. This Christmas might be a good time to try it out.

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    1. I know what you mean, and I was a bit dubious, but it works really well. Especially with thick icing! :)

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