I’ve gone on and on and on about how I’ve learned to appreciate my home, how much I love my family, and how excited I am to see them. But today, I made a home here. I’ve learned to develop friendships and make a home in a place that will never be my actual home.
This day, I just made it in the form of a gingerbread house.
Ironic, right? Oh I love a good metaphorical play on words. Especially when there is food involved.
Chef Simone promised our class that our last Pastry Shop gathering would be devoted the the making of the gingerbread house.
I was responsible for gathering the recipe.
To my ignorance, the Italians do not have molasses readily available in their supermarkets. So, being that molasses is the second ingredient in gingerbread, I had to use my super-recipe skills to find something that would be similar.
And to my delight, I did!
This recipe substitutes the honey for molasses and has a refreshing taste of lemon, because of the juice and zest inside. It’s also a great base for decorating works of art.
Look at ours!
Chef Simone helped us to design, plan, scale, and bake our gingerbread house so that it would be level and not fall over when a small insect landed on it.
We textured thinly rolled out gingerbread and cut out small circles to attach to the roof as shingles.
We supported the inside with another piece of gingerbread.
Used random things like food coloring to help hold the structure up.
We then piped chocolate so the roof would stay.
Then wrapped it in cling wrap and put it in the freezer for several minutes to stabilize.
We then attached the other roof side.
And our blank house was ready for our creative minds.
Jessica and I were so excited about gingerbread!
And together, Colleen, Jessica, Justina, and myself created this,
We dusted it with powdered sugar, and viola!
Wanna make a tasty gingerbread house like ours?
Honeyed Gingerbread House (Makes 1 large house)
- 1.5 kg plain flour
- 5 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 pinches salt
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tsp. ginger (we peeled a small piece of fresh ginger, grated it, and squeezed only the juice into the dough)
- 500 g honey
- 880 g caster sugar
- 120 g butter
- Juice 2 lemons
- Rinds 2 lemons, grated
- 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- Preheat the oven to 320 F.
- Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a very large mixing bowl.
- Bring the honey, sugar and butter to the boil in a large heavy saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice and rind. Allow to cool slightly. Beat in one third of the flour mixture.
- Add eggs and then the rest of the flour mixture. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Knead on floured surface, add more flour if necessary to make a smooth, pliable, but still slightly sticky dough. Roll dough on floured surface and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets in large pieces to bake. If making shapes or shingles, cut these out from the dough first before baking.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until cake is firm and light brown.
- Cut the gingerbread into shapes using a sharp knife. The cake must be cut whilst hot.
- Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes (or until browned and almost firm).
- Place on wire racks to cool. Windows and doors may be cut out if desired.
Here is a close up of our chimney, compliments of Colleen. Made with gingerbread, covered in dark chocolate, lines piped with white decorators icing, and topped with hardened meringue sugar.
Flower box, compliments of Jessica and I. Gingerbread box, attached with royal icing, topped with pistachio pieces and mini slices of candied cherry.
Door, roof, and patio, compliments of a whole lot of people.
What a brilliant afternoon!
Except, the whole time I kept thinking about how to make my gingerbread house violent.
Because, if you have been following the blog for quite a while, then you know about my violent gingerbread house past.
Dare I remind you?
And other than the shear looks of terror that my classmates gave me as I showed them the gingerbread houses of Christmas past, I also got the casual, “Lauren, you are only staying here for ONE semester, right?”
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
Ciao for now!