Spicy Crunchy Gingerbread

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After a long few weeks, my exams have finally come to an end and I am free to enjoy December and all of its edible wonder. Posh cheese and novelty chocolates have quelled my hunger so far but today I decided to bake one of my all-time favourite Christmas treats, spicy crunchy gingerbread!

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Years gone by have seen me make a few little chewy gingerbread men with wonky features but plenty homemade charm, so this year I wanted to get it right. I wanted crisp, spicy biscuits in the form of something a little more special, and what’s more special than a proper homemade gingerbead house? Nothing, that’s what.

As I’d never had the guts to try one out I was obviously a little wary, however I’ve found that no matter how your biscuit building turns out, its wonderfully rewarding. If its visually stunning then you’ve made yourself a fantastic Christmas centrepiece, and if it breaks and collapses, hey, you’ve got yourself a delicious pile of festive rubble. Everyone’s a winner!

Mine (thankfully) is still standing at the moment but if it does decide to break and cause some Christmas casualties, I can honestly say I don’t mind. It gives me an excuse to eat every last chocolate button on that roof…

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Anyway! This recipe makes enough gingerbread to build a house and some inhabitants using homemade templates or shop-bought cutters like I used, or it would also make at least 25 reasonably sized gingerbread people. Cut the dough into any shapes you like, even triangles or circles are fine, as long as you get a taste of the crunchy spiced beauty of these biscuits then you’ll be a happy elf.

Firstly, weigh your butter, sugar and syrup into a large saucepan. Place the pan on a low heat until everything is melted together into a smooth, dark mixture.

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Meanwhile, sift your flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a large bowl.

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Once the butter and sugar mixture is smooth and combined, tip your dry ingredients into the saucepan. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a dough.

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Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead a few times to form a neat ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to cool. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven and line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper.

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When the dough is ready to roll, look out two extra pieces of greaseproof paper.

At this stage you can make basic gingerbread stars, hearts or people to decorate however you like or you can go ahead and build a home for them!

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If you want to make a house, divide the dough into five equal pieces and keep them covered somewhere with either clingfilm or a clean teatowel.

Rolling the dough out between two pieces of greaseproof paper makes it easier and less likely to stick. Roll the various pieces of dough out separately to the thickness of about two stacked pound coins and then cut out your desired shapes, people or walls.

Once cut, place the shapes onto baking trays, space apart and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly darker in colour. Don’t worry if the biscuits seem soft, they crisp up nicely as they cool!

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If you’re making a house from the dough, bake the walls/roof pieces one at a time to ensure an even bake and make sure all the pieces are completely cool before you try and build anything with them, otherwise you’re destined for a biscuit breakdown.

When you’ve cut and baked all the shapes you need, gather up the trimmings and roll them out to cut some extra biscuits if you like!

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Once all your biscuits are baked, you can built your house or decorate your biscuit people using melted white chocolate or caramel or you can use old-fashioned royal icing instead.

Whisk your egg whites until frothy and begin to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until you reach a nice thick consistency. You can choose to have the icing as thin or thick as you like to decorate your biscuits, if you’re building something with them you’re best to have the icing as thick as possible but still spreadable.

This icing dries out and forms a skin very quickly so keep the bowl covered when you’re not using it.

If you’re making basic biscuits to decorate and eat, go ahead and ice them however you like! If you’re being brave and building on, carry on reading…

You can either spoon or pipe icing on to the sides and bottoms of your gingerbread walls, just make sure you use plenty to stick it together with.

Look out a serving plate/board and stick one of the side walls onto it with plenty icing, spread/pipe some icing up one side too.

Take the front of your house and stick it down the same way, sticking it firmly against the side wall to attach it. You may need to use some mugs or random kitchen objects to help prop them up at this stage.

Repeat the same steps to attach the back and other side wall and allow it to set completely before you attempt to attach the roof.

If you’d like to decorate the roof like I chose to, it’s best to do it before you attach it!

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Once the walls are sturdy and the icing has set, pipe/spread some more icing onto the tops of every wall as well as the edges of your roof pieces and carefully stick it down. It’s easier to have an extra pair of hands to lift one of the roof pieces at this stage. You may have to hold the roof pieces on for a minute or so until the icing begins to set. If it falls off, don’t fret, it’ll still taste great!

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When all the pieces have been stuck together, swirl some icing around the board/plate to act as snow and decorate the house with as much icing, chocolate and sweeties as you like, adding in a few little people or trees if you want. Gingerbread houses are so fun to make, so just go mad and do what you like with it.

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Now you can either take a few photos before tucking in to eat your masterpiece or you can use it as a little Christmas ornament and save some extra biscuits and sweeties for eating instead! Either way, whoever happens to be in the house with you will have no complaints. Unless they’re doing the washing up…

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Spicy Crunchy Gingerbread!

Spicy Crunchy Gingerbread!

Spicy crunchy gingerbread perfect for building and eating!

Ingredients

    For the Gingerbread biscuits:
  • 350g unsalted butter
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 150g light brown sugar (you can use all dark or all light if you like)
  • 8 tbsp golden syrup (about 160g)
  • 700g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1-2 tbsp ground ginger (depending on how spicy you like your gingerbread)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Pinch of salt
    For the Royal Icing:
  • 3 egg whites
  • 400g-500g icing sugar (depending on how stiff you want the icing)

Instructions

    For the Gingerbread biscuits:
  1. Weigh your butter, sugar and syrup into a large saucepan.
  2. Place the pan on a low heat until everything is melted together into a smooth, dark mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, sift your flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a large bowl.
  4. Once the butter and sugar mixture is smooth and combined, tip your dry ingredients into the saucepan. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
  5. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead a few times to form a neat ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for 20-25 minutes until cool.
  6. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven – 180 degrees for conventional ovens or 160 degrees for fan ovens – and line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  7. When the dough is ready to roll, look out two extra pieces of greaseproof paper.
  8. If you want to make a house, divide the dough into five equal pieces and keep them covered somewhere with either clingfilm or a clean tea-towel.
  9. Rolling the dough out between two pieces of greaseproof paper makes it easier and less likely to stick. Roll the various pieces of dough out separately to the thickness of about two stacked pound coins and then cut out your desired shapes, people or walls.
  10. Once cut, place the shapes onto baking trays spaced at least 3cm apart and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly darker in colour.
  11. If you’re making a house from the dough, bake the walls/roof pieces one at a time to ensure an even bake and make sure all the pieces are completely cool before you try and build anything with them.
  12. When you’ve cut and baked all the shapes you need, gather up the trimmings and roll them out to cut some extra biscuits if you like.
  13. Once all your biscuits are baked, you can build your house or decorate your biscuit people using melted white chocolate or caramel or you can use old-fashioned royal icing instead.
    For the Royal Icing:
  1. Whisk your egg whites until frothy and begin to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until you reach a nice thick consistency. You can choose to have the icing as thin or thick as you like to decorate your biscuits, if you’re building something with them you’re best to have the icing as thick as possible but still spreadable. This icing dries out and forms a skin very quickly so keep the bowl covered when you’re not using it. (If you’re making basic biscuits to decorate and eat, go ahead and ice them however you like! If you’re being brave and building on, carry on reading…)
  2. You can either spoon or pipe icing on to the sides and bottoms of your gingerbread walls, just make sure you use plenty to stick it together with.
  3. Look out a serving plate/board and stick one of the side walls onto it with plenty icing, spread/pipe some icing up one side too.
  4. Take the front of your house and stick it down the same way, sticking it firmly against the side wall to attach it. You may need to use some other objects to help prop them up at this stage.
  5. Repeat the same steps to attach the back and other side wall and allow it to set completely before you attempt to attach the roof.
  6. Once the walls are sturdy and the icing has set, pipe/spread some more icing onto the tops of every wall as well as the edges of your roof pieces and carefully stick it down. You may have to hold the roof pieces on for a minute or so until the icing begins to set.
  7. When all the pieces have been stuck together, swirl some icing around the board/plate to act as snow and decorate the house however you like.
  8. Enjoy!
http://maverickbaking.com/spicy-crunchy-gingerbread/

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