Crafts: A treat for Christmas

Crafts: A treat for Christmas

 

Cliona Byrne continues her recipe for a ginger bread house

 

Last week, we looked at how to make the ginger bread house pieces.

This week, it is time to look at how to construct and decorate this little biscuit home.

Constructing the ginger bread house can be a little bit tricky, so the more hands, the better.

The first essential is having a base for the house. I simply took a large chopping board and covered it with tin foil.

The next essential is making the sugary cement.

 

Cement

1. Sieve the 9oz/ 250g icing sugar into a large bowl and combine the three egg whites.

2. This will form a thick white paste. Make sure that the paste is not too wet, it will still glue the pieces together, but it will dry in a clear white rather than a thick snowy icing.

3. Place a damp cloth over the icing bowl while not in use, otherwise it will begin to dry out.

4. This icing can be placed into an icing bag, or simply use a palette knife to spread the thick icing.

 

Construction

Constructing the house is the only slightly difficult step to making a ginger bread house, but if anything does go wrong, it can easily be mended or replaced. Before beginning to construct the house, have cans and jars on stand-by to place beside the walls for support as it dries.

1. Begin by placing a line of icing underneath where the first piece will go.

2. Ice the vertical sides of the wall. At this point, don’t ice where the roof is going to attach as you won’t place the roof until much later.

3. With a thick layer of icing, glue all four walls together and surround by cans and jars to keep them standing upright as they dry.

4. Wait for 30 minutes or until the glue is fully dry before adding the roof.

5. If any of the pieces crack or snap during this process, simply glue them back together. Decoration will hide any mistakes made during this stage. Don’t let any breakage upset the project, everything can be fixed or even replaced with a bricked wall of ginger bread biscuits.

6. While placing the roof on my ginger bread house, I began to worry that it would not be supported fully in the centre. To solve this, I placed wooden skewers like rafters across to the two triangle shaped sides of the home.

7. This involved very little effort, I simply used the sharp end of the skewer to poke off the tiny piece of ginger bread for the skewer to sit on the roof. This is only necessary if you are making a large roof or are worried that you may have rolled the roof too thin.

8. Add plenty of glue to the sides of the house supporting the roof. Place both pieces on top and again, place cans and jars underneath the overhang of the roof to stop it from sliding down.

9. Again, allow the glue to fully dry before attempting to decorate the house.

 

Extras

During this time, ginger bread people and Christmas trees can be decorated. Little tubes of coloured icing can be purchased or the gluing ice from the ginger bread house can be used to attach Jelly Tots, Smarties, liquorice and any other sweet imaginable. A little bit of food colouring can be added to a small amount of the glue icing for decorating. Be creative, maybe attach two lollipops to the ginger bread man’s feet and two chocolate fingers to his hands so your little ginger bread person can be skiing. I chose to make a little Hansel and Gretel to stand outside my house using icing from a tube.

 

Decorate

Once the ginger bread house glue has fully set, it is time to decorate.

1. The best place to begin decorating is the roof. If you are layering the roof in buttons or biscuits, it is good to do it in sections; otherwise the weight of the sweets will cause everything to begin to slip down the roof.

2. If you are using buttons or biscuits, place a layer of glue across the bottom of either sides of the roof and place a line of buttons or biscuits. Decorate another piece of the house until this has dried and then add another layer. Continue this process until the roof is fully covered.

3. Anything can be used to cover the roof, including simply placing a layer of gluing icing to look like snow or place a layer of coconut over the icing to make fluffy snow. If you wish to continue the theme I chose of old Irish houses, a thatched cottage can be made by using noodles, pasta or even just using the real thing by using some straw or reed.

4. To make a chimney, glue four biscuits together or use half a flake bar and simply glue to the roof.

5. For decorating the rest of the house, use a combination of colourful sweets, biscuits, candy canes and lollipops.

6. I used Smarties for the windows to create a stainless glass effect. Alternatively windows can be drawn with icing sugar or glue one single large jelly sweet.

7. Use extra glue icing to make a garden of snow. Place the ginger bread men, Christmas trees, and lollipops into the snowy icing before it begins to dry. You can also make a little garden wall out of brick layered biscuits and icing.

The smell of this sweet ginger bread centre piece will fill your home and you can eat it or keep it. The ginger bread house can be kept for a week before going stale, but that is if you want to eat it. Otherwise, it can be kept for four weeks as a decorative piece. Once you are finished with the decorative piece, remove all the sweets and put outdoors for the birds to eat.

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