Last year I had planned to make a gingerbread house but never actually got round to it; a serious lack of time lead to a lot of gingerbread men and women being made instead. This year I was determined to make a seriously cool gingerbread abode – I designed and made the blueprints for a gingerbread mansion.
You may ask why I had such big plans? Well, if you’ve ever read my posts before you’ll have gotten used to my insane ideas where I’m normally in over my head. My motto: ‘go big or go home’. OK so that’s not actually my motto but it works here.
First thing you need to do when making a gingerbread house is to make the blueprints for it – my building design was essentially four basic-shaped houses stuck together to make a mansion. This in itself took around 2 hours; apparently geometry isn’t my best subject – I was more of an algebra type girl anyway.
Then came the preparation of the batter – this year I went for Mary Berry’s recipe to see how it would differ from last years. I made three times the amount of batter as I had a LOT of building parts to make. I started by mixing the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and rubbing in the butter – this was, actually, quite a calming exercise and I was quite happy rubbing everything in while watching a Christmas movie on TV. The golden syrup, sugar and egg is mixed in and kneaded until a smooth dough is made.
By this point my hands were getting quite tired but I figured I was practically halfway there. I started rolling out the batter and cutting out the shapes; there was a pretty good one-woman production line going but it still took around 2 hours to get all the pieces cut and baked. I had planned to have a gingerbread Christmas tree but I simply didn’t have enough batter left.
The house was now seriously smelling like Christmas and the family were very excited about what I had come up with – the entire dinner table was covered with bits and pieces of my mansion. Personally, at that point I was happy if I never smelt gingerbread again but I had to power through.
After a quick break for the gingerbread to cool (and a cup of tea, of course!), I started putting together the mansion. I whisked together some icing sugar and egg whites to make a stiff icing to use as the ‘glue’.
My dad and I spent the next 2 hours painstakingly putting each piece together; I never realised how dramatic and tense making a gingerbread house can be! We finally got the walls up and got started on the roof. As each section dried I piped a decorative pattern on each of the joints for extra strength – and to hide all the ugly glued bits. The last touch was to pipe chocolate icing onto the roofs and sprinkle some coconut to make it look like it had snowed. Add a snow covered floor and some snowmen and hey presto. My very own gingerbread mansion!
On Christmas day the gingerbread house/mansion took pride of place at the centre of the table, everyone was pretty amazed, not only at my sheer luck but also at how long it took to make – 9 hours! They were so amazed that no one wanted to break into it – it was a completely different matter for me, I couldn’t wait to tear it apart!
We only managed to get through the side extensions on Christmas day, but continued to work our way through until it was all gone!
The gingerbread itself was moreish – and a lot softer than you’d expect from a gingerbread biscuit. I much prefer this recipe and will definitely use it again – just not for a very long time, I need to get over my ordeal first!