I have to say, doing something even just once before, makes it a whole lot easier to do a second time. This year, I decided to be overly ambitious (I can’t help it!) and planned to construct a famous London attraction out of gingerbread. I have been drawing London’s famous landmarks for about two months now and I am continuously inspired by them. I have always loved Tower Bridge and I thought now was the time to honour it with sugar and cookies.
I remember having problems with my templates last year so I was a bit apprehensive about starting this year. Entirely by accident (I couldn’t find any other paper other than a pad of graph paper), I found the perfect paper for templates. I did not have to measure anything, due to the lines on the paper, and I drew and cut out the templates in about 5 minutes. The paper did not stick to the dough, and even after soaking up the butter from the dough, it still remained quite thick and did not tear or flake.
I amended my recipe to reduce the amount of ginger and switched the unsalted butter for salted butter (I find that salted butter gives cakes and cookies a fuller, more well-rounded taste), so this year it actually tasted great. I also reduced the amount of Bicarbonate of Soda to reduce the amount of spreading and stretching during baking. The new perfect Gingerbread House recipe is at the bottom of this post.
Decorating and Assembling
This year, for assembling the gingerbread, I coloured my royal icing brown. That way, if I had to use excessive amounts of icing to keep the bridge from collapsing, it would blend in well with the gingerbread. However, my icing was way too stiff so piping the decorations onto the side panels didn’t work out too well. Next year, I think I’ll just make two batches of icing; a stiffer one for assembling and a looser one for decorating.
I made the metal parts on the bridge entirely out of royal icing, which worked out quite well. They are quite delicate which makes them look lovely on the bridge.
I added a couple of sugar snowmen and a pile of snowballs at the foot of the bridge, to hide that slightly wonky seam.
Overall, I think it looks quite lovely and was not as difficult to make as I expected. I suppose good planning does account for a lot, as there is a lot of time spent waiting for things to dry before you can move on to the next step.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE RECIPE
This recipe makes tasty, hard, dense gingerbread, perfect for construction.
250g Salted Butter
200g Dark Muscovado Sugar
7tbsp Golden Syrup
600g Plain Flour
1.5tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
4tsp Ground Ginger
Preheat the oven to 200°C, or 180°C for fan ovens.
Melt and mix the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan.
Mix the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.
Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and mix until it forms a dough.
Roll, cut and bake for about 6 – 10 minutes.
Tip: Remove and trim the edges of the gingerbread after it has baked for about 5 minutes, and then continue baking. Mine did not expand anymore after that.
Happy Baking! xxx