Saturday, 3 September 2016

Springtime Gingerbread Scene

Inspired by springtime, this gingerbread scene features birds, hares, and blossom trees alongside a house, people and a cat!

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

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.

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

Our gingerbread scene leaves behind the depths of winter, with its dark short days, frosts and snow and embraces my favourite season, springtime.



A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and 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.

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

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.  If you're wondering why I coloured the cat with white, grey and blue, it's an impression of our very own fur baby!     

A photo posted by Angela (@onlycrumbsremain) on



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.

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

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!

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

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.

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

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 hours!

A 3D gingerbread scene inspired by GBBO and Springtime.

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!





print recipe

Springtime Gingerbread Scene
Inspired by springtime, this gingerbread scene features birds, hares and blossom trees alongside a house, people and a cat!
Details
Hands on time: at least Cook time:
Ingredients
 GINGERBREAD DOUGH
  • 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
  • 1/3 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 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
Method
1. Make the gingerbread dough. Place the softened butter and sugar into a good sized bowl. Beat together either with a wooden spoon or handheld beaters until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Add the golden syrup, black treacle and lightly beaten eggs and beat again until well combined. Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices into the bowl. Use a woodenspoon to combine. Liberally flour the work surface. Tip the gingerbread mixture onto the floured worksurface and knead for about 30 seconds until it comes together and is pliable. 2. Chill the dough. Divide the mixture into 4 roughly equally sized pieces. Shape each of them into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap each separately in cling film. Place into the fridge for atleast 40 minutes. 3. Prepare the templates. Ideally from cardboard, cut 2 oblongs for the side walls, two pieces for the front and rear of the house and two pieces for the roof. Consider making stencils of birds, hares, cats, trees, and bird tables. Many of the shapes we used were traced from books, though we used cutters for the people and cat. 4. Prepare the window decoration. Trace around the wide end of a large piping nozzle onto a piece of grease proof paper. Make a few more than is needed incase of breakages. Turn the paper over (so that the pencil marks are on the underside) and tack it down onto a tray which can be moved out of the way. Break up the white chocolate and melt over a bain marie, avoid letting the water touch the base of the pan. Stir the chocolate as it begins to melt to allow it to melt evenly. Avoid letting it get too warm. Remove the bowl from the pan. With a teaspoon place blobs of the melted white chocolate into each of the circles. Aim to make the chocolate circles a little larger than the circles you've drawn. Sprinkle with the coloured sprinkles. Set aside. 5. Preheat the oven to 180c / Fan 160 / Gas 4.6. Prepare the baking tray(s). Cut a sheet of baking paper to base line the baking tray(s). 7. Roll out the dough. Remove one of the packages of gingerbread from the fridge. Unwrap and place onto a well floured work surface. Roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin, turning the dough through 90 degrees after each roll to prevent it from sticking. Place a stencil onto the dough. Use a small sharp knife to cut the shape from the gingerbread dough. Carefully transfer the shape onto the baking tray. Add more shapes to the baking tray if there is room, but consider that the dough will spread a little during the bake. When making the walls use the wide end of a piping nozzle to cut circlular windows. If the piping nozzle is metal sit the nozzle back in the apature before baking. Bake with the nozzle insitu to prevent the window shape distorting. 8. Bake. Place the baking tray into the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. You may need to rotate the tray after 10 minutes of baking. Smaller pieces, like the bird, will cook quicker than larger pieces like the roof panels. 9. Cool. Once baked remove from the oven. After 3 or 4 minutes carefully transfer to a cooling rack. To remove the piping nozzles hold the gingerbread piece firmly and give the nozzle a firm waggle to remove it from the wrong side. 10. Repeat. Repeat steps 7, 8 and 9 until all of the shapes have been cut, baked and cooled. 11. Make the royal icing. Place the two egg whites into a good sized bowl. Add the lemon juice. Use a wooden spoon to beat a little to combine and break up the egg white. Sieve half of the icing sugar into the bowl. Mix together. Sieve most of the remaining icing sugar into the bowl and continue to mix. Add more icing sugar until the mixture is thick. Keep the icing soft by covering it with clingfilm, keeping the film in direct contact with the icing.12. Dress the windows. Use a knife to apply some of the icing to the wrongside of the gingerbread wall, around the window edge. Lay a white chocolate button onto the window, sprinkle side down. Repeat with the remaining windows. 13. Begin to assemble the house. You may need a second pair of hands at this point. Place 2 spoonfuls of the royal icing into another bowl. Add some black or brown food paste colourant. Mix together. Select two wall panels which will butt up together. Use a knife to apply some coloured icing to the edge of one of the walls. Butt it against the second wall at 90 degrees, standing them on your display board. Position some tinned food to help keep the gingerbread pannels in place. After 10 - 15 min add another panel to the property, again afixing it with the coloured royal icing and ensuring it is butted to the adjoining piece at 90 degrees.  Leave for 10 - 15 minutes.  Affix the fourth panel again by using the royal icing as a glue. Use more cans to keep the gingerbread panels in place.14 Decorate the characters. Whilst the royal icing is drying in the gingerbread house, decorate characters of your scene. For the most part, we kept it fairly simple. The blossom trees were decorated with 'flowers' taken from iced gem biscuits and purchased read made blossom flowers.15. Affix the roof panels. Once the four walls of the house are relatively secure remove any supporting cans from the inside of the gingerbread house. Apply some brown/black icing to the upper edges of the walls and position one of the roof panels. Again you may need an assistant at this point. Place a small cup, forinstance, beneath the roof to prevent it from sliding off whilst the royal icing dries. Repeat with the other side of the roof. Apply some brown / black royal icing to the ridge line where the two roof panels meet. 16. Decorate the roof with chocolate drop 'slates'. Empty the milk chocolate drops into a bowl. Use a teaspoon to apply a little of the brown / black royal icing to the base of the chocolate drop, to one half only. Affix it so the bottom line of the roof. Add some more chocolate drops to the bottom line of the roof, buttin up to the adjoining 'slate', until that line has been completed. Affix the second row of chocolate drops in the same manner to that they cover the joint of the 'slates' beneath (see images). You may need to cut some chocolate drops in half for the edges of the roof line. Repeat until the whole roof is covered in chocolate drop 'slates' 17. Decorate the roof's ridge line. Apply a little royal icing to the maltesers, and affix the sweets to the ridge line. Use a liquirice chunk to represent the chimney on the ridge line.18. Apply the grass. Colour the remaining white icing green. Spread this to the board your gingerbread scene is to sit on. Use a knife to ruffle it up to create peaks representing grass. Position your decorated shapes to the board, some may need to use the house as support. 

Notes:
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.





 

 

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This 3D gingerbread scene was inspired by springtime and contains birds, hares and blossom trees alongside a house, people and a cat.













This post had been shared with: 

Great Bloggers Bake Off hosted by Jenny at Mummy Mishaps
Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - #TheFoodCalendar CookBlogShare


 Bumpkin Betty's Baking Club on face book, who's theme this month is 'Showstoppers'.





 

 






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36 comments:

  1. This is stunning, I can't believe it your first time making one! X

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    1. Aw thank you Emma, you know what nor can I, I'm really pleased with how well it turned out. :-)
      Thank you for your lovely comment,
      Angela x

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  2. Love, Love, Love it! Scale, who cares about scale, it's just a great fun scheme. Well done. x

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    1. :-) thank you Jacqueline. I thoroughly enjoyed making it and it makes me smile how large our fur baby is in gingerbread compared to us...he could wipe us both out with just one swipe of a paw ;-)
      Thanks for your lovely comment Jacqualine,
      Angela x

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  3. That looks amazing Angela! I have made a gingerbread house before at Christmas but it seemed like a lot of effort with just two of us here to eat it. Well done!

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    1. Aw thank you Gina :-) I completely agree, it is a lot of effort - I was in the kitchen for most of the day creating it. I think that's what's put me off making them in the past as there is only Mr E & I to eat it, though we'll most probably share parts of the structure with my parents and neighbours.
      Thanks for your lovely comment Gina,
      Angela x

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  4. How is this your first ever gingerbread 3D structure???? It looks so amazing and professional. i adore it - so many wonderful details and it just looks so lovely. i LOVE it xx
    thank you for going to so much effort for #GBBOBloggers2016 - could be Star Baker worthy ;) x

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    1. Aw thank you Jenny :-) I had planned on including a working swing in there too but the old grey cells forgot to make it! In hindsight I think there's enough in the 'garden' without it becoming overly cluttered.
      Thank you for your lovely comment Jenny, it was an absolute pleasure I thoroughly enjoyed making it.
      Angeal x

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  5. It looks amazing! I love that you made the cat too, it's so sweet. x

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    1. Hahaha, I couldn't leave our fur baby out - he'd never let me hear the end of it ;-)
      Thanks for your kind comments Anca,
      Angela x

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  6. Absolutely brilliant! No one would guess this is your first time from this result! :o)

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    1. Thank you Michelle, to be honest I astonished myself with it too. If ever I decide to made one again it'll probably end up like a dogs dinner by me being overly confident with it and working too fast! I just took my time and enlisted OH in a couple of tasks whilst it was being put together.
      Thanks for your lovely comment Michelle,
      Angela x

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  7. oh my goodness - i am just speechless! How amazing! We tried making a gingerbread house from scratch a couple of years ago and it definitely would have made a brilliant 'pinterest epic fail' as it was so disastrous. You have done a brilliant job! #gbbobloggers2016

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    1. Aw thank you Rebecca. I do think that there's probably an element of luck to it not breaking whilst it's being constructed. You'll have to give it another go at some point, with Daniel being a little older and you both being a whiz in the kitchen I'm sure your new gingerbread house would do well on Pinterest for the right reasons :-)
      Thanks for your lovely comments,
      Angela x

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  8. It looks amazing! What an awesome effort. I definitely don't think I could have taken on this weeks showstopper!

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    1. Thank you Jasmin. For some reason I didn't even consider what might go wrong with it even though i'd never made one before. I decided that I fancied attempting one during the days running up to the episode when the trailers were aired and even made my dough before I watched the episode so there was no going back. I was just super excited about my theme - I just love springtime :-)
      Angela x

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  9. Angela.. the button roof tiles are killing me!! I love them :) all of the heart eye emojis on this one!

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    1. Aw thank you so much Hazel :-) Those choc button tiles were fab - bit fit with my folks who have just helped us demolish the gingerbread house!
      Angela x

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  10. This is fantastic - it must have taken forever! Well done!

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    1. Just a bit .....I'm glad I wasn't in the tent making it as I would have probably still been digging the foundations in the timeframe they were given! ;-)
      Thanks for your lovely comment Louise,
      Angela x

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  11. What an amazing creation Angela, I love the idea of,a spring gingerbread scene and think I'd make these all year round if I could do it as well as you!

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    1. Aw thank you Lucy. I've always thought of a gingerbread house as being a festive type of bake, but having thought about the challenge GBBO set it can really be used for any number of themes.
      Angela x

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  12. Wow Angela, this is amazing! Well done! I wish I had the patience and biscuit baking ability to make a gingerbread house x #GBBOBloggers2016

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    1. Aw thank you Kirsty. Funnily enough I'm not usually known for my biscuit making - I'm quite astounded it worked out as well as it did to be honest! :-)
      Thank you for your lovely comment,
      Angela x

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  13. I forgot to add on my comment thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

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    1. You're welcome Kirsty, it's a lovely linky :-)
      Angela x

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  14. Your gingerbread house is totally adorable Angela. It's hard to believe it's your first attempt. I've never dared try and tackle one. #GBBOBloggers2016

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    1. Ooh you must try one Choclette, I've wanted to make one for a few years now but was a little hesitant with the time it takes (let's be honest, it's not a quick bake!) and the prospect that it'd fall over but somebody must have been smiling down on me when I made it as I went up without any breakages (thanks to that second pair of hands). Hand on heart it was my first effort at making a gingerbread house, and I'm really pleased with how well it turned out. As a teen I used to love making my own boxes from scratch usually to house an unusually shape gift in - so I do seem to have a fondness for this type of thing though.
      Thanks for your lovely comment,
      Angela x

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  15. I love this so much Angela (as you probably know since I have featured it on #CookBlogShare this week!) It is just so pretty - it must have taken ages though!! My favourite bit is your lovely cat - it was my first thought actually when I saw that you had made a gingerbread scene 'I bet her cat is in there somewhere' and of course he is! So cute (the real one and the gingerbread one!) While I like spring, my favourite season is autumn - there is something lovely about the nights drawing in and the pretty lights going on and the smell of smoke and leaves, and dew and frost in the morning...plus my birthday is in autumn and I can start getting excited about Christmas. And I just love autumn food :-) Eb x

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    1. I certainly couldn't leave fur baby out of our gingerbread scene Eb :-) He loves springtime too - watching the small birds collect his fur from a peanut feeder (I collect his fur during the year after grooming him.). It's sooo much fun watching the birds collect his fur to line their nests and fly off with a huge bundle of it which is often as large as they are (if not larger!). There's some sort of poetry there watching the birds collect the fur from one of their preditors to use to keep their babies warm!
      Snap, I'm an autumn baby too! I do enjoy autumn especially the colours of the crisp crunchy leaves as they fall from the trees...the big kid in me just loves walking through them kicking them into the air! But for me springtime beats it - all the new life and things waking up from the cold winter really heartens me :-)
      Thanks for your lovely comments Eb, I'll pass your comment onto fur baby that you think he's cute - he'll like that :-)
      Angela x

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  16. Wow - what can I say, what you have created is spectacular!

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    1. Aw thankyou Tracy, that's so kind of you :-)
      Angela x

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  17. Wow! This is amazing Angela, I'm sure Mary and Paul would have been impressed. I use egg in my gingerbread as I prefer it to be a little softer too, every time Paul complained about a lack of snap on the show I felt absolutely convinced that he'd hate mine! I can imagine that it would be more structurally sound if it doesn't have egg though.

    Looking forward to see what you come up with for bread week.

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    1. I completely agree Charlotte, I think our blossom tree would have survived had I used an egg-free mixture, though as you say we too prefer a slightly softer gingerbread which no doubt would have raised eye brows from Mary and Paul.
      I've not baked for bread week this week - for some reason the bakes just didn't draw me in - though I also have problems kneading the traditional way with my wrists so I think that put me off to start with anyway. I'm really looking forward to batter week though - bring on those Yorkshire Puddings!
      Thanks for your really kind comments Charlotte,
      Angela x

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  18. the thought of making gingerbread structures scares me! Lol! This looks really fab though, so pretty! :D

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    1. Aw don't be scared Stacey, it really won't bite ...just bite it back if it does ;-) If you decide to try a gingerbread structure one day, I'd suggest having a few cans to hand and perhaps another pair of hands when you come to constructing it. This though was my very first attempt, so it can't be THAT difficult.
      hank you for your lovely comment,
      Angela x

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