Sunday, 6 January 2013

It's Been a While...

Because life has been insane. 
Since I got elected Communications Officer at the SU life has been manic, and with uni work, getting ill and general life being crazy I had to give up a few things to make things work. Watching Downton Abbey and writing this blog were just two of them, and I sincerely apologise. (Mainly to Bryony. Bryony I'm sorry...)


Every year for the last four years I've made a gingerbread house. It started off back in 2009 because I was ill and needed things to do and I've never really been a fan of christmas so I figured I'd make a gingerbread house to give me something to look forward to.

House of 2009
House of 2010
House of 2011

Since then, this epic undertaking has significantly upped the stress levels of cooking for christmas, with structural collapses and smartie shortages really taking a toll on my nerves every year. But it's entirely worth it, just because I'm a show off like that.

I always use this recipe from BBC Good Food. The gingerbread is amazing but the template is a bit small, so I usually print it off bigger so that the largest piece fills a whole side of A4.

In 2011 I attempted a gluten free gingerbread house. It did not go well. I ended up building a giant wall of shortbread to support the inside walls because the walls kept collapsing and it was awful. This year I did it with half wheat flour and half gluten free, for sanity's sake... I also made some structural supports for the inside that made the whole thing hold together like a dream.
The shortbread wall of 2011
The nice, neat structural supports of 2012
My main tip when it comes to making a structurally sound gingerbread house is to make the gingerbread nice and thin. This may sound counter intuitive - you want it to be sturdy and thick right? But actually, the thinner the gingerbread the drier it bakes in the oven, and the less moisture it absorbs over time. This makes it all much more stable and less likely to collapse, trust me on that one... The recipe suggests rolling it out to the thickness of a pound coin and this seems about right to me.

 Decorations? I highly recommend Smarties. Theyre awesome for gingerbread houses. Also Cadbury's chocolate fingers, because they look almost like logs on a log cabin, and my mother loves Terry's chocolate orange and they usually make a good apex for the roof. I used Malteasers on the back and chocolate buttons around the house as a sort of garden.

So there you have it. Gingerbread houses are not impossible. They're not easy but the finished product is entirely worth the trouble it takes to get it all together, so next year you should definitely have a go.

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