Week two of the Great British Bake Off was biscuit week, with showstoppers of free standing biscuit scenes. Before I even saw the show I knew I wanted to make a gingerbread house for the Great Bloggers Bake Off, it may not be as inventive as some of the bakers on the show but it is something my kids love. When making these before I’ve always used giant chocolate buttons for the roof tiles, this time I went a step further (imagining the look on Mary Berry’s face at the thought of bought chocolate buttons) and made tempered chocolate roof tiles in alternating milk and white chocolate. I also melted sugar to make the window panes. The chocolate coated beans were bought and I’m not sure if using a lollipop stick for the witch is strictly allowed but since I’m not really in the bake off tent I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt!
To make the 3D trees I used a normal tree cutter then cut out sections from the middle to allow them to interlock. Hansel and Gretel are made wide enough to stand up using 2 biscuits attached back to back with royal icing. The witch has a lollipop stick pushed in immediately she comes out of the oven before the biscuit hardens, Her decoration is done using a technique called flooding where lines are piped around the shape and then the inner sections flooded with a slightly runnier icing. I used star biscuits to make the tree she is flying over and used a lolipop stick to put a hole in each as it came out of the oven, when decorated and stacked with royal icing to hold it together the tree forms a stand to hold the witch up. The weights given below make enough dough for this biscuit scene plus enough extra that if you break a piece you can make another, the dough can be frozen or you could make extra trees or animals once you have safely made your cottage. The royal icing is to join biscuits together, the water icing is for decoration. To make the window panes you will need a sugar thermometer.
700g Plain flour
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger
350g light muscavado sugar
8 tablespoons golden syrup (and a small dish of vegetable / corn oil to dip the spoon in)
2 eggs (beaten)
pre-heat the oven to 180c
Water icing and gel colours (white, green, black)
100g castor sugar & 100ml water
Royal icing (1/2 of a 500g packet)
200g White chocolate
200g Milk chocolate
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl.
- Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Sieve in the sugar to remove any lumps then stir in.
- Dip your tablespoon in the oil to stop the golden syrup sticking then add the golden syrup to the egg and beat to combine.
- Gradually stir the syrup mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Mix into a smooth dough.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out.
- Cut out your biscuits and place on buttered baking trays. The template I used for the house is from BBC Goof Food and can be found here (you will need to print out 2 copies in order to cut out all the pieces).
- Use small heart or circle cutters to add windows and a knife to add a door.
- Bake at 180c and trim the edges with a sharp knife imediately the pieces come out of the oven while they are still soft. Use the templates again to ensure the correct size but do be careful as the biscuits will be hot.
- Cooking times may vary for different ovens but I found the following times worked.
Trees and figures =8 – 10 minutes (remember to puch the lollipop stick into the witch biscuit as soon as it comes out of the oven).
Side of house = 14 minutes *trim edges
Gable ends of house = 16 minutes
Roof of house = 18 minutes
- Cool on wire racks before decorating.
- First make the window panes for the house –
Place the castor sugar and water in a pan and heat to 150c using a sugar thermometer then pour window panes onto a foil covered baking tray (I needed 4)
- Mix the royal icing then once the window panes have set attach them to the back of the gable ends using the royal icing.
- While the window panes set in place temper the white and milk chocolate and pipe onto greaseproof paper to make the roof tiles.
- Once the window panes have set in place assemble the cottage using the royal icing. Place the gable ends between the outer walls so that a ledge is created to rest the roof on while it sets. Only attach the roof once the walls have begun to set.
- While the house sets decorate the trees, witch and children.
- Attach the roof tiles in alternating layers with royal icing.
- Add detail to the cottage with water icing.
- Finally add mini smarties around the window and door frames.