Recently Ms S was invited down to take part in a gingerbread house bake-off hosted by NEFF and Currys PC World. Today she’s sharing a Gingerbread House recipe and how she got on!
Over to Ms S (who was invited to the NEFF and Currys PC World Gingerbread House event)…
I cackled just like the witch in the infamous Hansel & Gretel tale. I’m not a baker or a maker or a chef by any means. So (like the witch), I rather suspected it would all end badly. But I love Christmas, and I love gingerbread, so I couldn’t say no!
On a cold winters night, I trotted off to L’Atelier des Chefs in St Pauls. A cookery school-come-bakery tucked away down a tiny cobbled street. It felt a bit like a fairytale. We were all greeted on arrival by a cheese board, assorted chutneys, mulled wine and prosecco – such a treat!
After we’d broken the ice, the lovely team swept us straight into that all-too-familiar ‘Bake Off’ atmosphere. Introducing us to their trademark sliding oven doors, and giving us some Prue-worthy tips on how to make the most of our cooking and creative skills. We were then split into three teams, and tasked with producing a Christmas card-esque gingerbread cottage, worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake…
The staff at L’Atelier des Chefs had already made our dough and laid out everything we might need, so we headed off to our workstations to crack on. Safe the say, the stakes were high, and true to form, mine (or should I say ‘ours’ – team effort after all!) ended up being more ‘hot mess’ than ‘holiday ready’…
In the end however, it didn’t matter at all that it wasn’t the prettiest or the sturdiest. It literally collapsed before the judges even saw it, a’la Ruby 2018! I’d had as many giggles and as many nibbles throughout the night as I’d hoped for, and what REALLY mattered was meeting new folks, sharing a few festive treats and trying something a bit different. Our house was hilarious, and we all felt it represented the spirit of the evening (and the spirit of Christmas – bright, cheerful, and over far too quickly!)
If you want to try your hand at beating us (and honestly, you should – you could and you would!) then NEFF have kindly provided their top secret recipe below. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed at not having the chance to mix the dough up on the night – but that’s a great excuse for having another go! Check out The Baking Explorer for a Gingerbread House template.
For the biscuit:
- 375 grams unsalted butter
- 150 grams golden syrup
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 300 grams soft dark brown sugar
- 900 grams plain flour
- 20 grams bicarbonate of soda
For the icing:
- 4 egg whites
- Juice of 2 whole lemons
- 900 grams icing sugar
Directions to make the biscuit
Set the oven to 180°C.
Melt together the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a small pan over a low heat.
Mix the plain flour, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, then pour in the butter mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.
Knead by hand until a smooth, firm dough is achieved.
Fold 2 sheets of baking paper in half and make a crease; open at the creases, and divide the dough equally between the two sheets.
Place the dough on one half of the baking paper, fold the paper back along the crease and roll the dough into a flat, even shape. Do this for both sheets of baking paper. This will give you 2 sheets of dough of even thickness.
Cut the dough in the requisite shapes, using your stencil.
Bake for 15 minutes; the biscuit will still be slightly soft when it comes out of the oven.
10. While the biscuit is still hot, recut the shapes, as the mix will have slightly joined together during baking.
11. At this stage, you can cut out windows and doors.
12. Leave to cool. Once cooled and set, carefully remove the excess trimmings and assemble.
Directions to make the icing
Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until frothy.
Add the icing sugar and mix on a low speed until combined.
Add the lemon juice, increase the speed and mix again until incorporated.
If desired, split the mix and add food colouring of your choice.
Pour the mixture into multiple icing bags and place different tips on each one to give you more choices when decorating.
The icing needs time to set firmly, so make sure it has rested.
Cement the walls with thick layers of icing using a wide nozzle.
Decorate as desired and enjoy with the whole family!
Regardless of our third place verdict, our house tasted incredible, and best of all? We got to take it home and eat it without bothering with the cleaning up. If you’re lucky enough to already have a NEFF oven at home, you can copy us – did you know some models are SELF-CLEANING?! – but if not, maybe it’s worth sticking one on your Christmas list this year. I’m sure Santa would be willing to take bribery in the form of a gingerbread grotto…
Have you baked a Gingerbread House before? Are you going to make one this Christmas? Let me know in the comments,
P.S. Ms S was invited to take part in the bake off by NEFF and Currys PC World, and all the ingredients and instructions were provided by them. However, the words (and all gingerbread) are her own – as you can probably tell!