Zoom forwards 6 years and I'm in that place; only perhaps the "idealised" Christmas traditions can at times seem a tad overwhelming. So this year, when I saw this at the Scandinavian Christmas Market up in London, it seemed to good to resist.
Yup, its a ready made Gingerbread house. All I needed to do was stick it all together. Easy, right?
I followed the instructions and attempted to stick it with piping hot sugar. Disaster. One of the walls broke in two as I was trying to piece it together. I was not a happy bunny!
I then proceeded to try all sorts of concoctions - icing sugar, icing sugar combined with egg white, jam. You name it, I tried it. The walls were so thin they just kept breaking on me.
In the end I gave up in frustration when the whole thing collapsed in pieces.
The problem was, I'd promised my little baking buddy a gingerbread house to decorate. And I don't like to disappoint.
And so I went back to my tried and tested, old faithful gingerbread recipe. And yes, it was 10pm and I had to do two batches and it takes an hour to bake...
But you know what? It was worth it!
So here, lovely readers, in case you are tempted to buy one of those ready made ones, is how you make real gingerbread that doesn't fall apart or collapse, or break or refuse to stick together!!
6oz golden syrup
8oz self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
large pinch bicarb of soda
1 beaten egg
1/4 pint milk
20 x 30cm greased baking tin
Gas Mark 4 - in the middle of the oven
1) Heat syrup and fat in a pan on a low heat
2) Sift flour, spice, ginger and bicarb into a mixing bowl
3) Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add egg and melted fat.
4) Mix to a smooth batter with the milk, then beat thoroughly.
5) Turn into tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until well risen and firm.
We then cut each rectangle into three equal smaller rectangles... stuck them with icing sugar and an egg white and secured with cocktail sticks until it had hardened...
With the triangles I had cut off the side walls in order to make the roof slopes, we created a door and a window and stuck them on too...
We left it 12 hours to solidify, and then let the little lady loose with her Bestamor!
She had a blast, and decorated it all by herself (with a little bit of guidance at the start!)
Of course, you can choose how much, or how little, you want to plaster it in sweets! We didn't want to go too OTT! This is still 3 packs of smarties and a half pack of skittles!
Someone was extremely proud of her creation... and just couldn't help staring at it, and tentatively attempting to touch it (to cries of "NO! You'll break it!") for the rest of the evening... One happy little baker!
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