Sunday, 6 January 2019

Our Gingerbread House - Made With Love

Our Gingerbread House Made With Love

I have wanted to make a Gingerbread House since forever. Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration because Gingerbread Houses were not a thing in forever although they do date back to the 16th Century in Germany after the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel. The history of Gingerbread Houses varies a bit, but if you want to know more about the tradition, read "The History of Gingerbread" or the Un-chrismassy Origin of Gingerbread Houses.

In any event, early German settlers brought this lebkuchenhaeusle tradition to America and like everything else, the rest of the world followed America, and Gingerbread Houses made at Christmas time became a popular tradition. Then Social Media exploded and everyone started to share their lives with complete strangers, including their Gingerbread Houses, and I wanted to make a Gingerbread House.

Somewhere between then and now I have wanted to make a Gingerbread House, so December 2018 it happened.  After I typed up this post over here, I went through my 101 things in 1001 days list and saw making a Gingerbread House was on my list and I had forgotten about it. Unknowingly ticking off my list is a good thing.

I regret not being into baking when my boys were little because I am sure they would have loved to make a Gingerbread House, but sadly that wasn't to be and Chad had no interest now as a young adult and I will never get to know what Clint's interests would be as a young adult.

J came over to visit for the Summer holidays and I mentioned that I wanted to make a Gingerbread House and she was up for it, but Mark and Chad were like "no, what for". At Mark's work Christmas Dinner, I mentioned that I wanted to make one and his colleague asked if I had watched the Great Kiwi Bake Off. I hadn't, but apparently, their Gingerbread Houses collapsed. It made me wonder if I should, but I did.

The Recipe and Process

I used this recipe from Chelsea sugar and used the tips from Sally's Baking Addiction. I didn't use her recipe because the Chelsea Sugar Recipe is local and I knew I would be able to buy all the ingredients. For the decorations, I Googled images of Gingerbread Houses and then sent Mark off to the shops after showing him the pictures of all the houses. I shouldn't have worried because Mark did what he does best.  Buys lots and lots of sweets. He spent NZD50.00 on sweets and then Chad backed him and said we would eat the sweets so not a waste. Usually, Chad is very frugal and tight with money but when it comes to sweets not so much apparently.

I baked the Gingerbread and J cut out the Template, also from Chelsea Sugar and after I rolled out the dough we traced/cut the pieces of the house out and baked them. We cut the pieces out on baking paper and then left them on the baking paper whilst baking. There is a lot of dough left over which can be used for biscuits/cookies which we made.  I also made other biscuits, Outydse Soetkoekies (Afrikaans for Old Fashioned Sweet Biscuits) recipe from Hullets Sugar. J did the cutting out of the biscuits and I did the rolling out and it was so nice to have someone share in my interests for a change.

That night when the pieces had cooled down because I have no patience, I started decorating the house with royal icing and messed it up.  Mark helped me put the house together and convinced me that we must leave the roof until the next day. I think that was one of the tips from Sally's Baking Addiction.  It was a tip from one of the sites I researched.  The next morning, when J saw the mess I made with the decorating, she was not impressed but it did get her to make a change in plans and sit down and decorate.

Building our Gingerbread House. Walls up Roof off

I am so bad at decorating and cannot pipe at all.  I showed her how to pipe, yes I can do that but can't do it myself, so she did the decorating and said it's easy - just like colouring in.  I forgot to mention, I can't colour in either. When Chad and Clint were little I used to do their colouring in for them for school homework and the teachers were none the wiser - I colour in like a 9-year-old or worse.

Gingerbread Man CookieFather Christmas CookieReindeer Cookie

Sleigh Cookie

We went crazy decorating our Gingerbread House with sweets, candy canes and royal icing. J's side neater than mine and it took forever.  Mark was probably the proudest out of all of us because he could not wait to take a photo or two or ten and post it on Facebook.  At the end J was so tired from bending over and "colouring in" her neck was almost stiff so we didn't decorate all the biscuits/cookies.  I messed around trying to finish the icing but biscuits are just as good without icing.

It was really a fun project and we will do it again.  We ate our Gingerbread House - it was too expensive to throw out.  Biscuits last a couple of weeks and don't go stale so I based it on that.  We kept it covered from dust and insects and flies and munched on it from Christmas Day.  We started baking it on the 19 December 2018 and finished decorating on the 21 December so it's not like we had it lying around for weeks.

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