Monday, 9 November 2015

Gingerbread House Part II: Baking and Assembly

Assuming that you have read Part I of my gingerbread construction saga, this is how I made the templates into a reality. As I said, I used regular white card to make the templates of the walls and chimney. At this point, no template exists for the roof, as I drafted that with paper after I assembled the gingerbread walls.
The house pattern includes:
  • 2 side walls,
  • 1 front/back wall,
  • 1 front/back chimney,
  • 1 top of chimney, and
  • 1 side of chimney.

I made a batch of gingerbread dough using the method in this recipe, and the following ingredients:
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) treacle
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) butter, or margarine, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 9 ounces (250 grammes) spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt

Unlike the original recipe, I use all spelt flour and no cornflour. The cornflour makes the gingerbread crumbly: nice texture to eating, but not as structurally sound. I divided the dough into two discs, wrapped them in cling film, and refrigerated them overnight. This is important, as it makes the dough good for handling, and not too sticky.
The next day, I sprinkled my work surface with flour and rolled out the dough to a thickness of a quarter inch (5 millimetres). I then cut out the pieces by laying them on the dough and cutting around them with a pizza wheel. I flipped the Front/Back template over to get the back of the house, and did the same with the triangular chimney template. I had to re-roll the dough once or twice, I think.
As pictured below, I cut a door and two jaunty windows out of the front part of the house, and two more windows out of the back. I filled them up with crushed boiled sweets, which then melted to create stained glass windows. This is a great little trick.

Once they were cooked, I allowed them to cool completely before moving them so the windows didn't get destroyed. Once all the pieces were cooked, the construction began! I used some royal icing (to my shame, I used the instant kind) and dyed half of it a cement grey colour, and the other half orange. I put the icing in two disposable icing bags, and cut a wide opening (about 5 millilitres) on the dark one, and a narrow opening (about 2 millilitres) on the orange one.

I stood the back of the house up, glued the sides on, and used cans to keep everything in place while it was setting. After the icing was set, I put the back of the house flat on the board, ends of the walls pointing up, so I could safely glue the front of the house on without destroying the delicate windows or the sides of the doorway.

I had bought a load of Smarties, jelly beans, and pretzel sticks from the shop, and I stuck them all on with the dark royal icing before adding flourishes with the orange icing. This was really just a going with the flow creative experience: I didn't plan what it would look like, I just go absorbed in it. I also did the chimney, as you can see.

Once everything was fused together, I draped a piece of paper over the pitched roof and drew a template for the roof slates. I made the roof slates out of dark chocolate, and decorated them with orange royal icing. To make the scalloped edges, I first piped the outline with royal icing, which I broke off when the roof slates were set. I stuck the roof slates on with the dark icing, using more cans to prop them up so they wouldn't slide off the roof while the icing was setting. 

I then stuck on the chimney piece; I was convinced it would go right through the roof, but the chocolate was surprisingly strong. I then did some more flourishes with the orange icing, making a roof cap tiles effect.

This was intensely fun, and took quite a lot of time. I'd say from start to finish took about 4 or 5 hours. It was so worth it, even if I didn't end up entering it into the competition. It did however get pride of place on the counter top in the gallery coffee dock...

THIS TIME IN 2014: Salted Caramel Shortbread (Wheat Free)
THIS TIME IN 2013: No blog

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