Rose and I have a wonderful friend called David Parker. He makes music, bakes treats and cooks delicious food. I was over at Dave’s not too long ago for a bread baking adventure with a friend and Dave was doing such a great job instructing us I half joked that we should do a feature on our website where he teaches Rose and I how to bake delicious things, Dave wittily called it ‘Baking with Babes’. I had thought more and more about how great it would be to have Dave do a video feature on the website but thought we wouldn’t have enough time to do anything until the new year, stuff gets cray this time of year y’all!
Two weeks ago Dave told me he had been making a surprise for me, I wasn’t sure what it would be, maybe some of his amazing macaroons? But it was even better than those delicious sugary things, he had made a video of himself making his gigantic gingerbread castle for his annual Christmas Party. It may be minus 2 of the 3 babes but it sure is baking! And right in time for Christmas!
After helping demolish the castle Dave made for his party I can attest that this gingerbread recipe is delicious, very delicious.
Take it away Dave….
• 6 cups of plain flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 4 teaspoons ground ginger
• 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
• ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 170g butter (room temperature)
• 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup Golden Syrup
• 1 Tablespoon water
Using an electric mixer beat together the butter and sugar, when light and fluffy and combined add in the eggs one at a time, then the golden syrup and water.
Sift all the dry ingredients in to a separate bowl and mix them together.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Bring the dough together using your hands and wrap with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
Make sure you have all the templates you need to cut around to make your house with. I haven’t supplied any here in the hopes that you’ll be a little creative with your design (although maybe keep it simple for a first effort!) I made mine out of card but regular paper or greaseproof works fine.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out a portion on to greaseproof paper till about 6-8mm thick, regularly dusting with flour to stop the rolling pin sticking. Dust the rolled out dough with flour again, place your templates and cut around them. Remove any excess dough. Do not be tempted to bake little stars, hearts and gingerbread men with the large pieces because they’ll end up over baked.
Cook the large pieces in a 180°C oven for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned. You want these to be fairly dry and strong so if a piece is still quite soft when cooled you can put it back in for a couple of minutes. It’s a pretty tricky balance of getting them strong enough without being overcooked.
Leave the pieces to cool on wire racks.
With any leftover gingerbread I like to make a whole bunch of gingerbread men and various other shapes so people can snack on gingerbread without destroying your house immediately. These smaller pieces only need to bake for about 5-8 mins.
Royal Icing Recipe
2 Egg whites
3 Cups Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Beat the egg whites and sugar together, add the teaspoon of vinegar and beat again.
If you are concerned about the safety of raw eggs, you can microwave the egg white powdered sugar mixture for several seconds (30-40) until the mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees, but not higher than 175°F.
Fill a piping bag or use a plastic freezer bag and cut off the tip of one of the corners.
Find a solid base for your gingerbread house and start gluing down the walls of the house. To keep them upright I used a couple of cans from the store cupboard to rest the gingerbread against.
Be fairly generous with the icing, I like to pipe along the inside edge of the pieces after they’ve been placed for some extra stability (although this matters less on a smaller project)
If a piece breaks for some reason just use some royal icing to glue it back together and then pipe along the seam on the reverse side of the gingerbread. Leave it to dry out before you try and do anything further with it. That royal icing is surprisingly strong when dry.
WAIT until the walls have had a chance to dry off a bit (half an hour or so) before trying to add the roof. When you’ve got the roof up you may need something to rest against the bottom of it to stop it sliding down, I leant a couple of gingerbread men up against it the last time I made a smaller house! Or again tins from the store cupboard work (as seen in the video) you just need something that doesn’t matter getting icing on it. When the house is complete leave it again so the icing solidifies a bit before you get on with decorating.
Decorate however you like!
Above is Dave’s gingerbread castle, amazing right? Thanks Dave!