Archive | December, 2009

My first Gingerbread House

28 Dec

Firstly, I cannot believe that Christmas has come and gone already! Secondly, I have always wanted to make one of these and thanks to this months Daring Bakers Challenge I can tick that box!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Having read through the forums on this and reading that some people were having difficulty with the dough I decided to go with Anna’s chosen recipe from Good Housekeeping (mainly because I had all the ingredients in my press already). The more time the dough is given to rest, the better so I made the dough in the evening after work, divided it into four, wrapped each and left them in the fridge over night.

Anna recommended rolling the dough out directly on the cookie sheet, now I only have one large  cookie sheet, the rest were baked on baking trays. I didn’t find any difference in the end result of the gingerbread between that which was rolled on the sheet and that which had to be transferred to a tray. When it was all rolled I cut out the shapes of the house from the template I downloaded and printed out. While these were cooling I took myself into town and did the remaining bits of my christmas shopping and when I got home, construction began! This is what I found the hardest part to be.

I used only royal icing to weld the house together. I began my piping it down the sides of the house and holding them together (admittedly whilst watching Elf!). When they were fairly solid I piped icing around the edges of the top and placed the two sides of the roof on the house, I held these in place for quite a while and was delighted with the result when I let go…until the roof sides slid off. Which they did numerous times until eventually the majority of me and the table were covered with icing! I then read about the ingenious trick of placing tins or jars under the roof to prop it while it set, once the icing hardened it was like cement! When the roof was most certainly set I placed the circular roof tiles I had also baked onto each side of the house, one gently overlapping the next.

The whole construction of the house took me quite some time (a movie and a half) and to be honest I didn’t have a huge amount of energy to decorate it and had no other chance to decorate it. I placed red and white jelly beans along the top and candy canes on each corner. Icing sugar was used as snow surrounding the house and it was gently sieved over the roof slates too.

Gingerbread House

My first ever ginger bread house, and hopefully not the last. I would definitely set myself more time to do it and a larger tin to hold the finished piece. I also will definitely not be eating this!! I don’t have the heart to do it!

p.s. I love reveal day and seeing all the new posts…as does Ella!

Curious Ella

Anna’s Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)…

2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger


1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.

2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)

4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)

5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.

6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)

7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.

9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.


I Love Random Presents!!

16 Dec

I am so excited!! My parents went to Paris for the weekend and brought me back a great french book on Macarons, I can’t fail so badly now…can I?? Well I hope not! There’s a list of aome beautiful flavour combinations in the book so I’ll make a batch for Christmas eve…fingers crossed!

Spicy Roast Butternut Squash Soup

2 Dec

Ooo it’s getting cold here and there is nothing better to warm you up and give you sustenance than a hearty bowl of soup. I have not had the energy to cook for a while, hence why I unfortunately had to forgo last months Daring Baker’s challenge; and so it was with glee that I took to the kitchen and decided soup was on the menu. My lovely mother had made a creamy coconut-y butternut squash soup so I decided since i’d never even bought a butternut squash before let alone cook with one that I would give it a go. I looked up a myriad of recipes and decided on a combination of them all, with ad added kick as himself was returning after a five day absence and he has a weakness for all things spicy.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ok, so, it’s  a fairly easy soup to make, it just take’s a little time.

Firstly, pre heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and place flesh side down in a baking tray. Cover with a few sprigs of thyme and a few cloves of garlic. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins.

Whilst this is doing its thing in the oven melt some butter in a saucepan. Sautee a diced onion, a few carrots and a potato. Season with salt and pepper, a tsp of curry powder and half a tsp of ginger. When all this has turned golden add about a pint of chicken stock and slowly simmer for 20 mins.

When the squash is ready remove from the oven, scoop out the flesh and add to the soup along with the roast garlic.

Blend, serve and tuck in!!!

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