4 March 2012

Ginger bread house

I love Ikea; it's not so much the furniture itself but the price and its supreme utility. Even more than their cheap home-ware and fabric I love their food section for two reasons: the holey cheese they do, and their pepparkokar (ginger biscuits). I love the holey cheese because it reminds me of visits to my Danish family, in particular the cheese that my grandparents always put out on the breakfast table. And the pepparkokar are just really tasty.

Not long before Christmas, my housemate found a recipe for some traditional Danish Christmas treats in the newspaper whilst she was away and brought it back knowing I would be very pleased. I leafed through the pages with contained excitement when, Lo! Hark! For the Guardian came bearing gifts of pepparkokar!

My boyfriend is an even bigger fan than I am of pepparkokar: he's been known to plough through a whole box in under a week and if you've ever seen how big those boxes are, you'll see that this requires a concerted effort. Over Christmas he had a broken foot and was consequently housebound so we made some Christmassy ginger biscuits to pass the time. I doubled the batch so I could make a gingerbread house as well. Once made up, the ball of dough was about the size of a football. Half the quantity would have been adequate for a house and some biscuits, I just got a bit carried away.

Here is the finished house--

Apologies for the quality, it was taken on the bf's phone. As you can see, I used icing to make it look like a proper alpine hut. Putting it together was remarkably straightforward. I think slanting the side walls outwards slightly helped. I also textured the edges using an ordinary dinner knife, making little diagonal dents to help the icing stick. I used about half wholegrain flour so the dough was already a bit knobbly. The house is about 20cm x 20cm x 25cm. To cut out the windows I used a fizzy drinks cap and I just used a knife to extend the windows downwards into an arch and make them square at the bottom.

If I make another one next year I will go to town and cover it in sweets and those little silver balls. I would also like to try out the technique of putting a hard boiled sweet in each window and seeing if they will melt to make proper glass windows! The dough only needs about 10 minutes in the oven, and I'm not sure if this is long enough for the sweets to melt.

I will post a copy of the recipe and a paper template with assembly instructions (how very Ikea!) soon.

Alix xxx

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