It’s been a while coming, but here is the final (for now) post in the Gingerbread Challenge series. You may remember that I promised my LSH a gingerbread church for Christmas, despite never having made gingerbread men before let alone anything that needs to stand upright on its own. So after numerous gingerbread men, a small shed and a house with boiled sweets windows I was finally ready for the big one – the church.
So on a cold and windy December afternoon we set about creating his dream – a small church, with stained glass windows, a red roof and a small steeple. LSH made the templates along with a cardboard version and I set about mixing gingerbread dough and then baking all the parts. It was all a bit like an episode of Blue Peter in our kitchen as we made small stained glass windows and dyed icing for the mortar, snow and grass.
You may notice that the final edible version doesn’t have the porch that the model has – we did try to add one but it was quite small and fell apart as soon as it was added. And the steeple was not easy to put together – it was a two man job to try and get the triangles to meet and the whole thing needed a lot of icing to stay together and even then it looks like it needs a lot of scaffolding around it to stay upright.
It was finished off with a fondant icing carpet of “snow”, chocolate paving slabs, some little snowmen (courtesy of LSH) and a light dusting of icing sugar. I’d left a little gap in the back wall so we could shine a torch in to illuminate the windows and voila – one winter Churchyard scene … in gingerbread.
A quick update on “Operation Gingerbread Church”. My aim this week was to build something with windows and roof tiles. So I brought out the graph paper and designed a simple house with boiled sweet coloured panes and chocolate button roof tiles.
The worst bit was trying to track down boiled sweets which appear to have all but disappeared from my local supermarkets but thankfully I found a pack which are now hidden behind my baking supplies to prevent LSH scoffing the rest. The final aim is to use a mix of colours to create a stained glass effect which I can then light (somehow….) from inside.
I managed to get some small cutters from a local cake decorating shop which I used to cut out three windows. These were filled with ground boiled sweets and baked. And thankfully they worked – I was a little worried they wouldn’t come away from the parchment but they came away cleanly.
The roof tiles are chocolate buttons which have been cut in half and held in place with royal icing. The remains were melted and used to create the ridge. I attempted to dye the icing brown but there was some white icing at the bottom of the bag. Looking at it I think that the bits that were white worked better giving a snow effect. Next time I may try a chocolate flavour biscuit base with white icing and quartered giant buttons to give overlapping fan tiles. That’s the plan anyway…
You may remember that I have foolishly promised my LSH a Gingerbread Church for Christmas despite having never made even a biscuit before. So I’ve been busy making gingerbread biscuits but I’ve been putting off the next stage as I was missing a key piece of equipment – an icing bag
But now I am the proud owner of an icing set and I’m out of excuses. So the time has come to make the biscuits stand upright and conquer my fear of the icing bag. I’m starting small with a gingerbread shed.
I created a pattern on graph paper which I used to cut the pieces out of rolled gingerbread dough. I even had a go at creating a timber effect in the roof with some lines scored on them. I then left them in a cold garage for about 30 min before baking. Yet they still spread and had to be recut once they had cooled a little.
Once cold I glued them together with a simple royal icing of just icing sugar and water and piped in a somewhat wobbly door. Thankfully it stood upright! And has remained standing upright. It’s not very pretty but as a first attempt at gingerbread construction it’s not bad. I just need to practice my icing skills and work on creating some windows next…
I have somewhat rashly promised LSH a gingerbread church with stained glass windows for Christmas.
There are however a few problems with this:
1. I’ve never made a gingerbread church in fact
2. I’ve never even attempted a gingerbread house or indeed
3. Even baked a gingerbread man and
4. I’ve never iced anything or attempted much in the way of decoration.
So just a bit of pressure then! Thankfully the Great British Bake Off book Showstoppers has a series of gingerbread recipes building up to a decorated house. My aim is to follow these and then take it up a notch.
So here is the first go – a mini batch of (nude/ undecorated) gingerbread men. Not the most exciting looking of bakes but tasty. Next step is learning how to use an icing bag and giving them a bit of dignity….