Get the kids involved in the kitchen with this gorgeous creation that is perfect for Christmas.
For the gingerbread recipe; put butter, dark brown sugar and golden syrup in medium sized saucepan. Stir occasionally over low heat till butter is melted and sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
Quickly stir in well-beaten eggs.
Sift the flours, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and bi-carb a few times. Add to the wet mixture. Add 2tbsp water; mix well. Put onto lightly floured bench. Knead till the dough becomes just sticky – if too dry add a little more water. Shape the dough into a round disc. Cut into 6 equal parts. Shape each part into a small disc. Wrap in cling film and rest all 6 discs in fridge.
After 15mins take out first disc; place in between 2 sheets of baking paper; use rolling pin to roll out to 5mm thickness. Make sure all leftover gingerbread dough is rolled up and set aside for other construction pieces.
Using a template, cut out one of six walls that will be needed to construct the house. There is a front wall, back wall, 2 side walls and 2 roof pieces.*Cut a 5.5cm x 4.5cm door in the front wall and set door aside before baking front wall. Slide each wall piece with baking paper underneath onto a baking tray and bake for 10 to 12mins at 180 degrees celsius. Leave on tray for 8mins on a wire rack; peel away paper; sit directly on wire rack.
Take leftover gingerbread dough; roll in between baking paper; cut out a 15x15cm square piece (for wood pieces); a pig shaped cutter (for pig). Make a template measuring 3cm width x one side 6cm high x other side 2.5cm high; cut out 2 pieces (for the chimney). Bake at 180C for 5/6mins only. Set aside to cool.
Cut 1/1.5cm lengths along the 15cm square; then cut these pieces in half to make the wood. Nick the top and along the edges to make them look rough and rustic. Set aside.
To make the royal icing: Using whisk, beat egg white till just frothy; add lemon juice; whisk.
Sift icing sugar; put 1/3 icing sugar into egg and whisk till nice, smooth and runny; add another 1/3; whisk till fully incorporated; mixture will begin to stiffen. Change from using whisk to wooden spoon; add remaining 1/3 icing sugar and mix thoroughly. Add a touch more lemon juice if mixture seems too thick.
Cover immediately with cling film.
To make the Montenegrin haystack; use a metal dariole mould measuring 4cm at the base and 6cm high. Grease outer dariole mould with butter; loosely wrap baking paper all around the outside of the mould and tuck excess paper into the inside of the mould. Take a chunk of gingerbread dough and shape around the baking paper; the usual base of the mould will be the top of the haystack. Be generous with the dough, make the haystack 1cm thick all over as it needs to support itself once baked and the mould is removed. Bake for about 10mins at 170. Carefully remove mould and paper once cool enough to handle. Put back into oven for another 8mins at reduced temp to finish off baking inside of haystack. Set aside with other gingerbread pieces.
Using the Royal Icing:
Take a piping bag with a 2mm round nozzle; pipe around edge of pig, make eyes, nose, mouth. Pipe lines along the haystack to represent the stronger sticks which keeps the haystack supported. Pipe an outline of the front door with a knob. Join the sides of the chimney together with icing. Pipe stone shapes on the outsides of the chimney.
Pipe 2 window frames on the front wall. Pipe 1 door and a broomstick on the back wall. Make sure the side pieces are right way up and facing each other before you commence piping (to ensure they go onto the front wall correctly. Pipe 1 window toward the back of the side piece; pipe a pattern of a round piece of wood with an axe in it in the centre of the side piece. The wood pieces will sit beside this motif by the front wall.
On the other side wall; pipe another window toward the back; pipe a pitch fork in the centre of the side wall. Allow all pieces to dry before assembling house.
Melt chocolate; cool slightly; half fill piping bag fitted with 10cm round nozzle. On the presentation board , pipe along bottom of side wall and up the side which borders the front wall. Press into back of front wall and onto the base. Support with a cup or a can or whatever can be rested against the inside wall. Sit for 10mins. Repeat process with remaining side and back wall reheating chocolate as needed.
Pipe chocolate along top edges of one side of the house. Carefully attach roof piece and hold in place for 5mins. Repeat with other roof piece and with holding in place. This is a critical stage to the structure staying in place. Patience!
Put structure aside to set.
Pipe generously the underside of the chimney piece and set down on the side of the roof. Hold in place for a minute. Fill a small piping bag with royal icing; fitted with a nozzle for eg: no.103 or no.97. Make big swirls along the top of the roof and then over the sides of the roof as in a ‘snowy’ pattern.
Take the chopped wood and create a pile going up the wall beside the axe.
Put the haystack toward the back of the house not far from the pitchfork.
Pipe melted chocolate onto the pig’s feet; put close to front door; hold in place.
Throw some desiccated coconut around the board to look like scattered snow.
Sift some icing sugar over the house.
Front and back walls – base 15.5cm, sides 14.5cm then draw line 12.5cm to the centre peak where it measures 24.5cm in length from the centre of the baseline; triangular in shape at the top.
Side walls x 2 – 14.5cm length; 23.5cm width; rectangular in shape.
Roof x 2 – 14.5cm length; 25.5cm width; rectangular in shape.
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