After some debate we have decided to include this post in the food production category of the blog. The subject matter might not be very nutritious but it does feed the soul and creates many happy memories.
We have been making quite a few gingerbread houses throughout the years and this post will be a trip down gingerbread lane. Most years we have baked all our pieces from scratch as it gives total artistic freedom and the only limitation is your imagination.
When you bake from scratch it is also possible to create ‘stained glass windows’ out of hard boiled sweets and add electric lights to the finished creation. It is best to make cut outs in the pieces with cookie cutters and sprinkle on crushed sweets in different colours.
We have a few Harry Potter fans in the house and if you are planning an elaborate design like this 2010 version of Hagrid’s hut, you need to make some cardboard templates for it all to work out. We made Aragog out of concentric layers and added the legs at an angle. It is fun to create three dimensional models like this. This roof needed a lot of calculations and should probably not be attempted as a first time project.
One year we used a most beloved book illustration from the Swedish children’s book “Millan i magiska bergen” as our inspiration. We incorporated lots of stained glass windows and used tins as supports for the structure to dry over night. As we have always worked with the children we have opted for sugar icing as our glue but if you wish melted sugar can be used and will create an instant bond. You must get your angles right however as once it is set it is completely inflexible. With Icing there is always some scope for adjusting the pieces.
Ice cream cones make good bases for Christmas trees. Just add green icing and lots of decorations. We like to use a base of plywood and build a bit of a landscape around our houses. One year we made a rectangular chocolate cake base added a round cake on top of it and stuck a small house on top. Small snacks and crackers make great decorations.
Small gingerbread house kits are available from many stores around Christmas time; we like to get ours from IKEA. They are a great alternative if you do not wish to build from scratch but still enjoy the putting together and decorating stage of the process.
We will finish this post with a few pictures of our various finished creations. We believe making gingerbread houses should be fun and it is not a perfect finished product that is most important but the creative process. There are no mistakes that can’t be rectified with a bit more icing and some sweets. You will need some patience for the times when the pieces start to slide about and the whole structure is on the verge of collapsing. It is good to be a couple of people working together at the assembly stage and use lots of tins as supports. Have fun if you give it a go!
Bag End, Hobbiton, The Shire.
With carol singers 2009