I used the gingerbread recipe from Bake by Rachel Allen, which was a real pain in the bum to work with. You have to roll it out on the baking paper and slide it onto the baking tray - any attempt to lift or move it will surely end in disaster. However, it did taste good - and make enough for a house plus several batches of gingerbread biscuits.
So, as I still haven't quite reached gingerbread house perfection, here's this year's list of lessons learnt:
- Always double check the dimensions of your bits of house. In this case, the two bits of roof didn't reach the middle. I was reliably informed by mathematically literate people that this is the fault of the recipe book, not mine. But, as I cut the templates out in paper, it wouldn't have taken a mo to check that the edges all matched up.
- Flakes make wonderful thatching when there's a big hole in your roof. And excellent chimneys.
- Icing made of 250g icing sugar / one egg white whisked up together is pretty much edible concrete and just the ticket for sticking a gingerbread house together. But next time another kind of icing that is thinner and solidifies less quickly would be better for decorating.
- Don't get carried away with cutting out windows - remember you're going to have decorate all of them. Or your friends are. This house was a two storey number with a total of 10 windows, which lead to a few complaints as the ladies arranged lines of silver balls around each one.
- Decorating a gingerbread house is an excellent festive group activity. In fact, there was talk of other festivities that could be marked with gingerbread. A Valentine's Day gingerbread house of love? An Easter gingerbread chicken coop? The possibilities are, as they say, endless.
Happy New Year!