It seems as though I blinked and suddenly week 2 of GBBO arrived, biscuit week. The 11 bakers were challenged with making a batch of decorated iced biscuits in the signature challenge, Vienesse Whirls (or swirls as I seem to call them) in the technical bake, and a 3D Gingerbread Story in the showstopper challenge.
For some years now I've been drawn to gingerbread houses during the festive period, but have never taken the plunge to make one myself. So although the Vienesse Swirls looked enticing, my bake, to continue with my efforts in the Great Bloggers Bake Off, hosted by Jenny at Mummy Mishaps, is a Gingerbread Story.
Our gingerbread scene leaves behind the depths of winter, with its dark short days, frosts and snow and embraces my favourite season, springtime.
Springtime is packed with new life, fresh colours, warmth, anticipation. Birds begin to nest. Hares box. Flowers emerge and burst their buds. Blossom trees and their confetti like petals can be seen almost around every corner.
GBBO's showstopper challenge was to construct a 3D gingerbread story which was at least 30cm tall with at least 8 characters / items. Our gingerbread scene included a house, 2 people (Mr E & I of course), a blossom tree, 3 birds, 2 hares, a bird table and a cat.
Most of the shapes were created by tracing around images found in books, though actual cookie cutters were used for the people and cat. This may explain the 'slight' issue with scale, the hares are as large as us and we're too tall for the door! And as for our fur baby, well he is a big cat in real life (though admittedly not quite that big!) The gingerbread house was created from the template found in the back of GBBO's Showstopper book, which featured James Morton's Winter Woodland Cottage. Although it doesn't meet Paul's exacting brief of being in excess of 30cm tall, it still produces a good sized structure standing over 20cm tall, and is probably a relatively manageable dimension when tackling a gingerbread creation for the first time.
During construction numerous tins of tomatoes and beans were removed from the cupboard to provide a little scaffolding and support. It's probably fair to say that having a second pair of hands available at this point is useful!
Being a child of the 70's when Play School was the programme to watch, starring Gemima, Big Ted, Little Ted and Humpty, I have a fascination of round windows. They're so much more interesting than regular square or oblong ones. So, our gingerbread house is constructed with 8 round windows! There's not a straight line in sight as far as the windows are concerned. Being round actually made them easier to construct as the wide end of a piping nozzles were used to remove the unwanted dough. Also, the metal piping nozzles were left in the aparture during the bake to help retain the shape of the window. The windows were dressed with white chocolate drops finished with coloured sprinkles rather than the usual crushed hard boiled sweets.
The gingerbread dough used for this Springtime Gingerbread
Scene is from a recipe contained in an old Sainsbury magazine. It's a
recipe which I rustle up for gingerbread men at Halloween time in preparation for the
trick or treaters each year. It brings a wonderful warm note from the
ground ginger and has never let me down. During the GBBO episode there
was some discussion whether or not to include an egg in the mixture,
some of the bakers stated that it can be more difficult to construct 3D creations
with doughs containing eggs. Now our dough contained an egg,
but having already made the dough prior to the show being aired I
wasn't prepared to throw it in the bin and waste good ingredients just
to make an egg-less batch. Our gingerbread may not have quite
the snap as some of the contestants, but as you can see from the images
the house was errected without any breakages and remains structurally sound after over 24
Although I'm really pleased with the result, I had envisaged our blossom tree to take centre stage in the garden having been made from two flat gingerbread trees which, in theory, would lock together through the trunck section creating a further 3D structure. However catastophe happened and the tree snapped. Twice. But the breakage resulted in our springtime gingerbread scene having three blossom trees as opposed to one.
Let's get to it and bake!
Inspired by springtime, this gingerbread scene features birds, hares and blossom trees alongside a house, people and a cat!
Hands on time: at least 5 hour Cook time: 12 - 15 mins per batch
- 250g Unsalted Butter, softened
- 150g Dark Muscovado Sugar
- 2 Large Egg, lightly beaten
- 140g Golden Syrup
- 60g Black Treacle
- 750g Plain Flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 6 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ⅓ tsp Ground Cloves
- ½ tsp Ground Allspice
- Pinch Salt
FOR THE WINDOW DECORATION
- 50g White Chocolate
- handful Coloured Sprinkles
FOR THE ROYAL ICING
- 2 Egg Whites
- few drops Lemon Juice
- 500g Icing Sugar
FOR FURTHER DECORATION
- 3 small bags Iced Gems and/or bought iced blossom flowers
- 280g Milk Chocolate Buttons
- 1 Liquorice Block from a bag of Liquirice Allsorts
- 9 or 10 Milk Chocolate Maltesers
- Range of food paste colours, for instance brown/black, green, blue
a) Our gingerbread house measured 14cm wide x 9cm deep x 20cm tall. We used the template found at the back of GBBO's 'Showstopper' recipe book. b) Ensure the baking tray has returned to room temperature before placing more gingerbread shapes onto it when batch baking. c) Use a fish slice to move the cut out raw gingerbread shapes to the baking tray. You may find a 'cake lifter' useful for moving the larger pieces. Alternatively roll out the dough on a piece of greaseproof paper and use that paper to transfer the cut shape(s) to the baking tray. d) Once made liberally cover with clingfil until it is required.