I’ve already shared a couple of pictures here and on my social channels of the gingerbread house i helped to construct at a blogging event a week or so ago. And it was billed as a bit of a bake off, which involved competition and skill. Thankfully I’d been teamed with some proper food bloggers who brought their knowledge to our team’s enthusiasm. Before being let loose on the challenge, we learnt more about the ovens and what lie ahead of us and although the dough had been made for us in the interests of time, instead of a recipe to follow we had to use our instincts, which is where those food bloggers came into their own. Between them they knew how long to cook the individual shapes for, and how to make Royal Icing. I quickly learnt this is where my icing goes wrong as I’ve not made that type of icing before. Lesson number one learnt and stored away for home use!
But starting off there was a simple cutting out job to do. First the templates and then the templates and gingerbread dough. With the dough cut out one of the most challenging parts of the evening was fitting the dough onto the trays to go into the oven, as with three teams cooking there was as much competition for oven space. Thankfully none of us were so competitive that we resorted to dirty tactics, everyone played fair, even to the point of checking on each other’s baking.
I’m a fan of Neff ovens, I’m on my second at home - the second one as when we did our kitchen we opted to upgrade our appliances too, and it was an easy choice when our kitchen suppliers asked which brand of appliances we wanted. Definitely Neff. They’re reliable, cook well, look good and why move from what you know?
Our only regret, well with hindsight, that has to be the timing of our kitchen refurb, which was just as the ‘slide and hide’ models were starting to be available. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’m not sure we would have delayed it just for an oven door which disappears, but I know one thing, next time we buy an oven that’s what we’ll be aiming for.
Another thing I learnt from the evening was that clean ovens are more efficient than, well than mine. That’s lesson learnt number two, but that’s one that is likely to take a bit more elbow grease, or delegated elbow grease, to put right. But it’s something to aim for, kitchen goals and all that…
With our gingerbread baked and trimmed - it’s important to do that while it’s still warm, and a tip we picked up was to use those templates again, and not worry too much if it cracks, as there’s always icing. That’s my own real-world, icing loving, tip there - but it works.
While the main components were cooking we set about making some gingerbread and French stick canapes; there were circles, stars, snowmen and Christmas tree shapes - and more besides. Not liking to waste any of the dough I attempted some triangular bunting shapes, see above. The shapes expanded during cooking, and so the PR friendly bunting transformed into stepping stones to go outside our house.
And that icing, that’s all mine - it’s a bit wobbly in places, but not bad for a first attempt at lettering, hey?
Construction was made easier with many hands, and so I can confirm many hands do make light work. After my mini-venture into icing, I was happy to leave the construction cement-like icing to those that really knew what they were doing, happy to record the events in much the same way that Kevin McCloud does on Grand Designs, but with much less mud.
Confident that our house wouldn’t fall down, it was time for decorating, and the next challenge of the evening was trying not to eat our construction supplies - well until the decorating was done that is.
You’ll have seen my 3D tree here before, but I’m sharing it again because I’m so proud of how it turned out. I’d love to say it was planned, but when I saw two stars and a circle going spare, along with plenty of green icing I couldn’t help myself. The jelly babies proved to be the perfect baubles, and the tree looked great in our garden.
It was my first time making a gingerbread house, and it was way easier than I thought, especially with the combined knowledge of our team’s food bloggers. If you’re tempted to try one for yourself, give it a go, as not only is it fun to make, it also tastes fantastic too as my work colleagues can testify - and I’m sure it’ll be easier with the recipe too, so here’s the recipe of our gingerbread houses - thanks Neff.
* This is a collaborative post, but as usual all views are my own. Thanks to Neff and their partners for a great evening, and of course for the gingerbread house!