HANSEL & GRETEL HOUSE OF DREAMS
December is all about my German Christmas traditions and one of my favourite has to be baking my Knusper Haus - or Gingerbread House from the fairytale of Hansel & Gretel. Encrusted in sweets to lure the children in, I think this year I may have just about outdone myself!
So many of my followers love the how-to videos I post on Instagram. For those who might want to try this out at home I've included the recipe, a detailed how-to with many top tips and the template.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE RECIPE
120g golden syrup
20g ginger syrup
2 stem ginger balls finely chopped
100g soft light brown sugar
100g dark brown sugar
200g unsalted butter
4 teaspoons ginger powder
2 teaspoons if cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
500g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
This recipe will make 24 biscuits depending on size.
For my gingerbread house template you will need to make 2 portions - print and use my house template at the bottom of the newsletter.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR GINGERBREAD
Measure your syrups, sugars and butter in a saucepan and gently start to melt them on a low-medium heat. Then add all the spices. Keep stiring until all melted. Bring to a boiling point where the mixture starts to bubble. Then take off the heat and add your bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will start to react and froth up. Mix with a spoon and then leave to cool for ten minutes.
Measure your flour, add your egg and salt then slowly add your sugar mixture to the flour until it’s just combined. Don’t overmix or the biscuits will spread more in baking.
TOP TIP - Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 1hr. It will be super sticky. Don’t worry. It firms up in the fridge making it easier to roll out.
When cooled place between two sheets of baking paper or cling film and roll out. I roll my biscuits to a measurement of 4mm and the house a little thicker to 6mm.
Cut around the parchment. This way you won’t lift or distort your shapes.
I place mine back in the fridge for another 10-15 before baking. Again this helps to keep their shape and avoid spreading.
Bake! It really depends on how big your house is. I bake my biscuits for 18min and my gingerbread house pieces for 45 mins. Both at 350 F.
TOP TIP - if you want to have really sharp edges to your house then this is the time to trim. While the pieces are still warm from the oven, lay your template over your house and using a ruler and a pizza cutter trim your edges.
Make sure to let your pieces cool fully before you move them as they are soft and will break until they are cold.
Now to ice and decorate!!!
What could be more fun than choosing your favourite sweets to decorate. I love a mix of red, white, pink and green sweets with a few liquorice thrown in for me.
I also used royal icing to pipe out windows onto greaseproof paper. If you leave these to dry overnight you can use them to decorate. I also made fondant candy canes. Simply colour your fondant, roll into long strands and twist together three colours. then roll into a long sausage and shape into canes, hearts or a door like I did! And This year I added shutters. I used fondant again and rolled it over a wood patterned rolling mat to give it a wood grain. cut out the shapes and then let then dry before sticking them on.
Decorating your gingerbread house is where the fun happens! I pipe a line of icing around my gingerbread and then flood the area with a runnier flood icing. However you don't necessarily need to do this. If you do, make sure the icing is Royal icing (it should have egg white in it) and is fully set before sticking on your sweets.
TOP TIP - I use regular icing sugar to stick down my sweets. If you use royal icing, you will need a chisel to get them off!
TOP TIP - I always stick my sweets on when the pieces are still unassembled. This way they don't slide off.
I first lay them down to see if I like the pattern and if i have enough of one type of sweet, I'm a sucker for symmetry
Next up assembly time!
In the past I used royal icing but I found I had to hold my pieces in places for such a long time, and invariably they just slid off.
So I now use caramel. I simply add white caster sugar to a pan and on a medium heat, wait patiently until it turns into caramel. Don't stir! just wait. It will happen.
I dip two sides in the caramel and then place on a cake board and hold in place for a few seconds. you can also prop your sides against tin cans for support. When positioning I like to leave enough space to have a garden too.
I like designing a pretty sweet path and cover ice cream cones in icing to look like snow frosted trees.
TOP TIP - don't worry about it looking messy, that's what icing is for. Once the house has been assembled, I pipe swirls along all the joins and icicles along the roof.
I love adding bows along the roof. I always cut holes along the top side of my roof sections so that I can thread the ribbons through -
TOP TIP - Firstly when the gingerbread comes out of the oven, it spreads, your holes for the ribbon may have sealed up, so make sure to re cut them.
Finally - remember to thread your bows through as you're assembling your roof. It's tough to do it after. I tend to stick one side of the roof on, thread the ribbon through both roof sections and then stick the second one down. Then once the roof join has been iced, I tie the bows.
Now stand back and admire your handiwork!
You can use the front template for the rear of the house. The same goes for the roof and the sides