Ok, ok: you can buy assemble-your-own gingerbread gaffs at Tiger and Ikea but wouldn’t you be so damn proud of yourself if you’d managed to make one from scratch? We’ve got a smart way to DIY one from Siúcra Ambassador and Pastry Chef Louise Lennox, whose tips you can find on www.siucra-recipes.ie.
- 225g Siúcra Granulated sugar
- 250g Siúcra Demerara Brown sugar
- 425g margarine block
- 454g golden syrup
- 180ml whole milk
- 1200g plain flour
- 1 tablespoons bread soda
- 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons ground ginger
FOR THE DECORATIONS
- 4-6 packets Siúcra Instant Royal Icing
- 2 packets Siúcra Roll Out Icing
- 50g Siúcra Icing sugar
- Food colouring
- Optional: 5 sheets leaf gelatine for the windows
- Front and back of house: length 15cm, width 14cm, angled top 11cm
- Side of house: length 15cm, width 21cm
- Roof of house: length 13cm, width 26cm
- Place the Granulated Sugar and Demerara Brown Sugar, margarine, golden syrup and milk into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring mixture constantly, until the sugar and margarine have melted and the mixture is smooth. Be careful not to overheat. Pour into a large bowl.
- Sieve the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger together. Stir into the wet mixture. To speed things up, use an electric mixer.
- Line a 10” square tin with baking parchment and pour in the dough. Smooth dough, cover with cling film or another sheet of baking parchment and leave for eight hours or overnight in a cool place. Don’t place the dough in the fridge as it will be really difficult to roll out.
- Cut out templates for the ginger bread house on paper first, then trace and copy on cardboard, (an old cereal box is perfect). You will need two templates for the front of the house, one for the side and one for the roof. Depending on how many trays you have, it might be easier to roll out and bake the gingerbread in sections. Once baked and completely cold, place either in an airtight container or wrap in cling film. You will need to roll out and bake two sides for the house, two for the roof and two for the front and back of the house.
- Cut out two windows on each side of the house and one window at the front of the house.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide the dough into six equal portions. Use a little flour and roll out one portion of the dough to about 1/2” thickness. This is much easier if rolled out onto a sheet of baking paper. Make sure that before rolling, you cut out the baking paper to fit a baking tray and that one of the templates for the ginger bread house fits on it. Put one of the cardboard templates on top of the rolled out dough and cut around the shape. Place the baking paper with the gingerbread on a baking tray. Refrigerate for one hour until the ginger bread is firm. Roll all of the gingerbread scraps left over together and wrap in cling film. Keep the excess gingerbread dough for making extra decorations for the gingerbread house.
- Bake the gingerbread at 180 degrees Celsius or gas mark 4 for 25 to 30 minutes until it is dark brown and firm to the touch. Make sure that the large pieces are baked all the way through. You will need to cook the gingerbread house in stages. It is best to place one piece of the house on to one baking tray at a time as the gingerbread will expand during cooking.
- When the gingerbread is nearly cooked, remove from the oven, place the template on the cooked gingerbread and carefully cut around it to trim to the exact size and shape. It is important to do this so the house will fit together and while the gingerbread is warm. Once it hardens it is more likely to break if cut then. Return the gingerbread to the oven for five more minutes. Remove and place on a wire tray and allow to cool.
ASSEMBLING THE GAFF
- Draw a rough outline of the house on a very large tray, cake board or piece of wood. This will show exactly where the house will be attached.
- Next, make the Instant Royal Icing by following the instructions on the packet until it is stiff. Cover with cling film or a damp clean cloth to prevent it from drying out.
- Fill a piping bag with some Instant Royal Icing or use a palette knife to spread a generous amount of royal icing along the edges of the house. Spread royal icing where the house will stand. Pipe royal icing along the edge of each piece of the house. Stick one side of the house down onto the icing. Attach the front of the house to the side and then the other side to the back. Pipe some more royal icing along the inside and outside of the gingerbread house where all the edges meet to ensure that they are well stuck together. Inside the house where the windows are, use a little Royal Icing to stick the gelatine sheets to give the effect of a glass window.
- Pipe along the edges of the gingerbread house where the roof will attach and stick it on. Carefully place one side of the roof followed by the second. Fill in any gaps with Royal Icing.
- Colour one packet of Roll Out Icing with red food colouring. Sprinkle some Icing Sugar onto a work surface. Roll out half of the red icing and half the plain white Roll Out Icing. Spread a thin layer of Royal Icing on to both roof pieces and place a row of the red tiles followed by a row of white along both sides of the roof.
- Roll the remaining red and white Roll Out Icing into two long thin sausage shapes. Twist both colours together. Pipe more Royal Icing around the edges of the house and stick the red and white twists to it.
- Fill a small piping bag with Roll Out Icing, pipe around the gelatine sheets to make windows and around the overhang of the roof for an icicle effect.
- Use any leftover gingerbread dough to make a door, Christmas trees, fence and snowmen to decorate the house.
OH CHRIST, THAT’S REALLY HARD!
Help is at hand. This video should assist: