Gingerbread Homes

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I think most people are feeling that this Christmas has arrived in a rush, I know I am.  I am not sure if it is the drought or the extreme heat or the relentless news of bush-fires and alarming world events but I have had to dig deep to get into the festive spirit this year and I am not sure I am actually there yet.  I thought sharing a few baking tips might help.

Christmas baking for me, is one way to fill the kitchen with reassuring aromas and some favourites have become traditional including small gingerbread houses.  I find baking these wall parts well in advance and freezing them prior to Christmas helps to break up the work and simplifies the process when the time to build arrives. I make three houses each year, one for each of our children to decorate and one for me.  Three houses guarantee that everyone can have their own creative control, ranging from lolly mountains to minimalism.

This is a large recipe but you can make houses and gingerbread shapes in one big batch with plenty leftover to give as gifts.

Gingerbread house 2019

Normally I am not a decorative baker. I feel happier baking chocolate chip biscuits and sourdough bread than I do icing elaborate cakes and so I don’t aim for perfection when it comes to gingerbread houses.  Instead I aim for something fun that we can put on the table for Christmas Day.

My houses stand around 8cm tall and making them this size is manageable in terms of sugar intake as well as from an engineering perspective!   Another tip I have is to always use store bought royal icing.  The ingredients list is rather frightening but it is almost guaranteed to hold your walls and rooftops together.

Gingerbread house 2019

On Friday afternoon we all gathered around the table and built our respective little houses.  We patiently took turns using the piping bag and even in the sweltering heat everyone shared ideas and offered encouragement which doesn’t always happen with a 13 year old and a 10 year old in close proximity to each other.

So, that is it.  Tiny houses with some sparkles and icing will almost certainly bring some Christmas cheer to your home.

Gingerbread house 2019

For those who have stuck with my updates this year, thank you.  If you are in my part of the world stay cool and safe.  For my overseas friends, stay warm and safe.

I am aiming for patience and kindness over the next few days and trying hard to let go of the small stuff.

Merry Christmas, friends x

 

Gingerbread

Recipe originally from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1125 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1.5 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 400 g butter at room temperature
  • 400 g soft brown sugar
  • 320 g golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg yolks
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Sift flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and spices together in a large bowl.

  2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large bowl and mix with a sturdy wooden spoon until pale and creamy.  Alternatively, mix in a large stand mixer. 

    Add the egg and egg yolks in a slow stream and mix until well combined. 


    Add the dry ingredients, in three batches, until thoroughly mixed.  Divide the dough into four portions and flatten each piece into a rough disk. 

    Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm or for up to three days.

  3. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line several large trays with baking paper, set aside.

  4. Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly.  Roll out each disc between two sheets of baking paper until about 3mm thick. 


    Cut into desired shapes using biscuit cutters or a knife. Continue to re-roll to make use of all the dough.

  5. Place the shapes on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake, in batches for 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Allow to cool on trays.

RECIPE NOTES

There are many printable templates available online for gingerbread houses, in various sizes.

Cooked gingerbread freezes successfully.

November 8, 2019

22 Comments

  1. Reply

    fran

    December 22, 2019

    Thanks for your blog, Shady Baker, it’s always good to hear about the lives of those who help make our lives better; and especially good this morning when we are surrounded by thick smoke and waiting for a call out to help fight a giant implacable enemy. Fran near Jenolan

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Fran, stay safe.

  2. Reply

    Donna

    December 22, 2019

    Hi Jane!
    It’s been so long since I left a comment in blogging land. But I have always loved your photos and words, and I too am struggling to get into the spirit this year.
    So glad you had a nice day making/decorating these gingerbread houses with the family.
    I will also aim for kindness, patience, and not sweating the small stuff over the next few days. Failing that, there is vodka and chocolate!🎅😁
    Wishing you a very Merry Chistmas.
    Donna xx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thanks Donna, I loved your blog! Vodka and chocolate..yes. Thank you for calling in x

  3. Reply

    Kate

    December 22, 2019

    I put the tree up early this year, on days when I had time off for overtime built during the fires at the start of November. I’ve worked long, long days being across all the related bushfire communications and disaster fundraising: all our response and recovery work is funded by public donations, and I have been very humbled by the generosity of people at such a difficult and scary time of year. But it’s only one small part against those fighting fires and families like yours working to keep businesses going in the middle of a long drought. I have done no Christmas baking, but have made up for it by spending small moments with precious people. A walk on the beach, a quick dip, a friend will pop over this evening to share toasted sandwiches for dinner. Everyone has been so good about a ‘different’ kind of Christmas. It’s care, kindness, propping each other up that has been the theme of Christmas this year. A safe and gentle one to you and yours.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Hi Kate. It sounds like you have been working hard. I hope you had a relaxing Christmas. Thank you for being such a lovely blogging friend x

  4. Reply

    Christina

    December 22, 2019

    Thank you Jane for sharing your life in the bush and recipes, it’s always lovely to get your updates!
    Like you and so many around us, the Christmas Spirit is still very elusive with only a few days til Christmas Day.
    Today is cool so I plan to roll out the short crust pastry and make fruit mince pies… I know that will help me!
    Sending best wishes to your family and you, and hoping rain clouds gather over all!!
    From Christina
    In smoky Batemans Bay

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Christina, fruit mince pies help with everything I find! Best wishes to you too. Stay safe in that smoke x

  5. Reply

    Sam

    December 22, 2019

    Hi Jane, a lovely post as always. We’ve been listening to reports of the bushfires and soaring temperatures in Australia and thinking of friends there hoping you are all ok. At this side of the world, we have had so much rain that flooding has closed motorways. I wish we could send it your way. Such unsettling times we live in. Thank you for sharing your gingerbread calm and here’s wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful and safe Christmas and New Year. Take care of yourself. Sam x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Sam. Best wishes x

  6. Reply

    Anne

    December 22, 2019

    A perfect Christmas post Jane and just the thing for this alarming year. We’ve watched with horror as the bushfires rage in Australia and read how the drought conditions have impacted farming so badly while it’s been so wet here in England that many of us were unable to get any crops sown in the autumn and the water is pouring off the fields or standing in newly formed lakes.
    Like you, I haven’t found the Christmas spirit yet but there’s still time!
    Wishing you a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Anne x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Anne x

  7. Reply

    Elise

    December 23, 2019

    Hi Jane, I always look forward to the photos of your gingerbread creations, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. I too am struggling to find the festive spirit this year, especially knowing so many people are having a hard time with drought and fires.
    I wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas. Look forward to what 2020 brings.. Elise x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Elise, lovely to hear from you x

  8. Reply

    Annie Bart

    December 23, 2019

    Thanks for your blog Jane. I love your photos and recipes. Always an inspiration! Wishing you and all your readers a happy and safe festive season xox

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Annie x

  9. Reply

    Kate B

    December 23, 2019

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Jane. Gingerbread is one of my favourite Christmas traditions!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Thank you Kate, I loved the photos from your big family Christmas x

  10. Reply

    Liz Posmyk

    December 24, 2019

    Hi Jane, a beautiful post from beginning to end. I can almost taste the gingerbread. We’re on the far south coast of New South Wales now and have been praying that the Currowan fire doesn’t head any further south, as we’re surrounded by bush. So much of the Shoalhaven and surrounds have been burnt out, and of course all the fires in Adelaide, Sydney and the Blue Mountains (to name just a few). Makes you step back and think about how fortunate you are. Wishing you a peaceful, safe and happy Christmas. Thank you for bringing your part of the world to ours. x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      December 28, 2019

      Hi Liz, lovely to hear from you. I hope you are staying safe and enjoyed a restful Christmas. Best wishes to you x

  11. Reply

    Marie

    January 10, 2020

    Hi, I regularly read your posts on this blog( from France) and love them. I want to tell you today how sorry I am for the disasters that are destroying your country and I hope that your farm is not too cruelly affected by these tragedies. I hope that all these difficulties will be alleviated and that your country will take measures to safeguard its land which is part of a world in great difficulty. Courage!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 22, 2020

      Thank you Marie, lovely to hear from you!

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